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Rural Oliver resident evacuated due to flooding-debris

The evacuation alert remains in place for 148 properties in the rural Oliver area
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen director for rural Oliver Terry Schafer and local resident Gloria Luypen speak with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, who was in the area observing the flooding. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

One property has been evacuated in rural Oliver due to flooding, after “debris and tree” blocked her driveway.

Brandy Maslowski with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s emergency operations centre said the resident was not evacuated by RDOS, but by people working to pump water to mitigate flood risks.

The RDOS does not have much information on that, with those involved only saying “debris and tree blocked her driveway.”

The issue, Maslowski said, is emergency access — with her driveway blocked, it is uncertain she would be able to get out in an emergent situation.

That individual is now in 72-hour emergency support from the regional district, and has a place to stay with emergency operations.

The evacuation alert remains in place for 148 properties in the rural Oliver area, due to the potential of debris flow, as a culvert and dam above Secrest Hill Road are at risk of releasing water and debris in to the Sportsmens Bowl Road area.

That release could send water and debris across Highway 97 and several kilometres down Park Rill Creek, the regional district said.

But the RDOS tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the regional district has pumps in place.

“The RDOS currently has emergency pumps on site and they’ve had that overnight to ensure the water’s managed safely,” Maslowski said.

The RDOS is working to mitigate risks downstream from Sportsmens Bowl Road, while the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations is working upstream, including at dams above Willowbrook.

That work is intended to divert waterflow to keep the dam from breaching, and hold off risks to Willowbrook, and subsequently to Sportsmens Bowl Road.

No other properties have been evacuated, and Maslowski said while there remains to be a risk, the dam and culvert are “stable at this time.”

A full list of properties that have been evacuated can be found on the regional district’s announcement.

Maslowski stressed the importance of being prepared, noting that even if a resident’s property is not under evacuation alert, a 72-hour emergency kit should be on hand, and a plan to quickly evacuate and a place to stay should be lined up.

On Monday, the RDOS said upward of 115,000 sandbags and 806 tonnes of sand had been delivered in the region, though by Tuesday afternoon that number is likely no longer accurate.

Penticton deputy fire chief Chris Forster noted that in Willowbrook sandbag barricades to keep the water flowing through the community were breached and the community’s fire hall was “imminently” under threat of flooding.

He added that the B.C. Wildfire Service was in the area on the weekend to help fill around 10,000 sandbags at Penticton’s Station 202.