Flooding forces thousands out of their homes in B.C.’s southern Interior

Nearly 2,700 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in British Columbia’s southern Interior

Nearly 2,700 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in British Columbia’s southern Interior as officials warn of flooding due to extremely heavy snowpacks, sudden downpours and unseasonably warm temperatures.

Chris Marsh, emergency operations centre director and program manager for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, said there has been ”significant flooding” in the eastern area of the region.

“Over the last 24 to 36 hours we’ve experienced significant rainfall, up to 50 millimetres in some spots and in some of the drainages in this area, and that’s caused the rivers to rise significantly over the past 24 hours,” Marsh said Thursday.

Frances Maika of the regional district said the flood is “in the range” of a once in a 200 year occurrence.

Evacuation orders were issued Thursday for the about 1,500 properties covering a large area along the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle rivers, as well as in the Carmi region, 80 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.

Related: Evacuation orders issued for 2,500 in B.C.’s Kootenay-Boundary region

Related: ‘Out of control’: Flood evacuates 54 Okanagan Falls properties

Officials in Osoyoos declared a state of emergency Thursday evening due to the “imminent threat of flooding and rising lake levels.” They also ordered the Coast Hotel to be evacuated due to an “immediate danger to life and safety.”

Related: Evacuation Order has been issued for the Osoyoos Coast Hotel

Related: Highway 3 west of Keremeos to remain closed

Marsh said there have been washouts on smaller streams and tributaries in the region as well, isolating residents on some properties.

Marsh said they expected water levels to peak Thursday evening, adding that different parts of the district could see bodies of water swell between 30 and 100 centimetres.

“If you are thinking you’re safe because you haven’t flooded before, but you are seeing the water come up, please make sure you’re safe and that you make the decision timely enough to evacuate yourself if you need to.”

Jessica Mace of the Kettle River Watershed Authority said volunteers arrived in downtown Grand Forks from across the area to help business owners and residents.

“It’s been truly amazing,” she said. “I was just downtown and there are tons of people down there helping all the businesses sand bag their places as best they can.”

Mace and Maika said volunteers had filled almost 30,000 of the 120,000 sandbags that went out.

“Many businesses are starting to donate food,” said Mace. “People are very happy to see food show up.”

Residents under evacuation order are being directed to reception centres in Grand Forks and Midway, but Maika said the surge of water should pass quickly.

“In the next 24 hours, we are going to see the peak in some areas but then people have to respond to what has happened. The recovery is going to be an active process,” she said.

The EmergencyInfoBC website, which provides information during provincial emergencies, lists evacuation orders or alerts in seven regional districts and for seven First Nations around the province.

The province also encouraged local governments and First Nations communities along the lower Fraser River to prepare for potential flooding as it experiences high flow rates. Average temperatures in the region have been five degrees above normal for the last two weeks, and higher temperatures are forecast for next week, it said in a news release.

The Central Okanagan’s emergency response centre said there had been localized flood and record creek flows in the area including Kelowna. Mission Creek reached a record flow rate overnight on Wednesday, the centre said, and dikes, sand bags and tiger dams were able to contain the flow.

Related: Joe Rich residents displaced by floods

Related: More flood erosion on Princeton Summerland Road

— By Spencer Harwood and Beth Leighton in Vancouver

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Secondary hosts B.C. mountain biking championships

Over 200 riders expected to hit the trails May 25-26

VIDEO: Canadian Forces members begin helping out flooded B.C. communities

Three-hundred personnel in B.C. in some off hardest hit cities

Tanto Latte brings authentic Italian flavour to the Okanagan

Organic Italian cheese to be produced in Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm RCMP attempt to coax man off roof

Officers report a seven-hour encounter which ended in the man falling

Shuswap karate instructor doubles for Hollywood’s big stars

Holly Raczynski’s latest job was as a stunt double on the upcoming X-Men film, Dark Phoenix

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Olympic gold medallist returns to Summerland

Justin Kripps brought his gold medal to Summerland Secondary Thursday

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Are B.C.’s gas prices enough to keep you from travelling May long weekend?

Gas prices in B.C. ranging from 125 cents per litre to more than 150 cents

Most Read