Kelowna may be hit in the next 24 hours by a one-in-200 year flood, emergency centre officials are warning.
“What we are expecting to see is unprecedented water levels as a result of rain, rising temperatures and melting snowpack (and) the ground is already saturated,” said Brian Reardon, CORD Emergency Operations director.
“In other words, it’s the perfect storm.”
Reardon said emergency staff are hoping for the best, but warned that those who are in the floodpath would be wise to start preparing for the worst. That means sandbagging to protect property, preparing a “go-bag” of essentials for when the evacuation order comes down and securing a place for both family and pets to find refuge. All Kelowna hotel rooms, said Reardon, are already booked.
“Last week’s flooding may prove to be a dress rehearsal for a much larger event,” he said, adding that water levels are expected to peak late Thursday or early Friday.
In addition to asking Kelowna residents to start doing what they can to protect their own properties, there’s an effort underway to reinforce city infrastructure that diverts area streams and creeks.
Todd Cashin, planning section chief with CORD Emergency Operations Centre said his team has been trying to get a good sense of where creeks are topping their banks and how that relates to critical infrastructure.
As such, they made the “unusual” call to raise the height of the Mission Creek Greenway dike from KLO Road to Gordon Drive to try and mitigate potential damage.
Signs and fencing are in place at each entrance of the closed trail and for their safety residents are asked to stay out as heavy equipment will be working on these portions of the recreational trail.
Two underpasses along the Greenway at Casorso Road and the Gordon Drive bridge remain closed as well because of high water levels in the creek.
And the lower Gellatly Road parking area and trail to Brown Road in in Glen Canyon Regional Park are also still closed due to flooding along Powers Creek.
A similar effort is underway in West Kelowna, where city crews will be out in the community today sandbagging key infrastructure in advance of tomorrow’s predicted thunderstorm and residents are urged to also get prepared for possible flooding.
Staff will be sandbagging around pump houses within the West Kelowna Estates, Pritchard and Sunnyside water service areas and lift stations at Green Bay, Hitchner Road, Pritchard Drive, Pebble Beach and Whitworth Road.
While much of the discussion thus far has centred around creeks, there’s also concern for the lake level which is already close to full pool and expected to rise even further.
To get an idea of how much water its already taken on, Cashin said the lake level rose by 10 cm during last week’s storm. Considering the lake is 135 kilometres long, “that’s a lot of water.”
As some brace for the second wave of floods, there are still more than 190 residences still on evacuation order throughout the area and evacuation alerts are in place along Vernon Creek from Mayrus Road to Wood Lake and in Lake Country east of Highway 97 to Lodge Road between Wood Lake and Konschun Road.
Residents who are on evacuation order are asked to register at the Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception center located at the Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Avenue. Due to a shortage of accomodations, particularly over the weekend, evacuees with RV’s, trailers or campers are encouraged to use them, although they should still register with the ESS.
The ESS will be open today and Thursday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Information on flooding and electrical safety is also available for BC Hydro and FortisBC customers: www.bchydro.com www.fortisbc.com
For up to date information on the situation including a map and to sign up for e-updates, visit http://www.cordemergency.ca/ .
Anyone noticing a potential problem or a flooding concern is asked to call the Kelowna Fire Department at 250-469-8801.
Information will also be provided via the https://twitter.com/CO_Emerg and https://www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency/ or by phone at 250-469-8490 or 1-877-569-8490 (toll-free).