Ongoing precaution reminder as freshet continues

Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 8:47am

Freshet is well underway and the Central Okanagan Regional District Emergency Operations Centre, along with local governments, continue to monitor Environment Canada reports and rising lake levels closely.

“Higher than normal snowpack levels, warm temperatures and predicted rainfall are all variable factors that can combine to elevate the risk of flooding from creeks, streams and Okanagan Lake,” said Sandra Follack, Central Okanagan Regional Emergency Program Coordinator. “And while the risk of wide-spread flooding remains low, localized flooding is still a possibility as we have experienced recently. Property owners should be prepared.”

Some lakes, like Kalamalka and Ellison, are currently above full pool. While Okanagan Lake is currently below full pool, the combination of warmer weather and rain events may result in Okanagan Lake exceeding full pool which is not unusual during freshet. Boaters are asked to reduce wake activity close to the shore over the next several weeks and watch for floating debris carried into area lakes from faster flowing tributaries. Residents can monitor lake levels at wateroffice.ec.gc.ca.

Flooding preparedness
Those living near creeks, streams and low-lying properties that have experienced flooding and high water in the past are responsible for having an emergency plan as well as the tools and equipment to protect properties from possible damage. For waterfront property owners, precautions include securing their docks and making sure boat anchor lines are long enough so that they don’t snap if water continues to rise. Find resources and learn more about creating an emergency preparedness plan at cordemergency.ca/beprepared.

Sandbags are available at fire halls or other designated locations by local governments in the Central Okanagan and residents are encouraged to check local municipal websites for more information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those filling sandbags are asked to maintain a safe physical distance from others. Visit the Province of BC webpage for information about physical distancing and sandbagging. Unless otherwise stated, property owners are responsible for providing their own sand to fill the bags and the proper removal and disposal of any sandbags they use.

During the spring snowmelt, all Central Okanagan residents should be cautious around area creeks as water can unexpectedly rise and flow faster. People and pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff.

In the event of an emergency and activation of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre, find the latest information at cordemergency.ca, on Facebook (@CORDEmergency), Twitter (@CO_Emerg) and through email updates.