Tara Bowie Rick On Tuesday Rick Wood stands in pooled water known as Olalla Lake by locals. The lake appears each spring but with a larger than normal snow pack and recent rains the water has risen to a point that it’s forced out at least five residents in four mobile homes on 1st Street.

Volunteers continue sandbagging efforts in Olalla

Water continues to rise in Olalla. Neighbours and friends came out on Tuesday and Wednesday to help.

Volunteers of all ages spent hours sandbagging early this week in hopes their efforts will help protect homes in Olalla on 1st Street and 3rd Street.

About 50 people from paramedics to volunteer firefighters to young people who are receiving treatment at The Crossing answered the call to help over the last two days.

Hanna Skytte from Keremeos saw reports that homes were at risk in Olalla and helped organize volunteers Tuesday.

“I heard they needed help and so I made a few phone calls and put it out on social media that we were looking for people to help fill sandbags. It’s been great. The paramedics came out and volunteered their time, the kids from The Crossing are here… It’s great that people can come together and help their neighbours. We’re from Keremeos but we’re all neighbours here.”

About 20 people showed up the first day to sandbag around three homes on 1st Street that were not already completely surrounded by water.

Volunteers filled thousands of bags with four truck loads of sand.

Rick Wood one of the manufactured homeowners was overwhelmed by the support.

“I really appreciate the help,” he said. “I couldn’t have done this without the help.”

Wood had to leave the home as power was turned off Tuesday evening.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen gave an evacuation order for five homes on 1st Street and one on 2nd Street late Tuesday.

“Rising water has affected septic tanks, electricity and roads to homes prompting the formal evacuation of the affected homes,” the release about the evacuations stated.

Residents are eligible for temporary emergency housing through the province.

Wood said he knew when he bought the manufactured home, which is part of a 55 plus manufactured home park, that it was on a flood plain. He’s lived in the home for just four years and said that he’s never seen water that high before.

“It’s not a surprise (the water),” he said. ” It’s just we don’t know when it might stop.”

Over night Tuesday the water’s edge rose at least 15 feet and the sandbags worked to hold off water so it wasn’t up against the structures.

On Wednesday more volunteers showed up in Olalla this time to help a homeowner on 3rd Street.

The water, which is pooling in the area, is creating a large lake that locals refer to as Olalla Lake.

Dave Campbell owns the home on 3rd Street where volunteers were sandbagging Wednesday.

“I want to express my gratitude to the community and all the volunteers that came out to help,” he said.

Campbell implored elected officials to do something to ensure that flooding did not happen in the future.

“This situation shouldn’t happen next year. The government should be mitigating this. They know there is a problem and money shouldn’t be an issue in fixing it when they waste so much money on other things,” he said.

Volunteers also helped sandbag on Liddicoat Road Wednesday afternoon.

Warm weather melting the larger than normal snow pack continues to cause problems in creeks and rivers. Rain is expected throughout the week and residents are reminded to stay away from the sides of creeks and rivers.

If you know of any flooding going on in the Lower Similkameen please message the Keremeos Review Facebook page.


Tara Bowie A group of about 30 volunteers spent Wednesday afternoon sand bagging around on home on 3rd Street in Olalla on May 31, 2017.

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