A look at Kamloops' Oak Hills flood nearly half a century later - InfoNews

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A look at Kamloops' Oak Hills flood nearly half a century later

Sandpiper Drive in Oak Hills was more of a river than a road in June 1972.
Image Credit: Sheila Webster
June 02, 2017 - 12:57 PM

KAMLOOPS - It was 45 years ago today that a devastating flood hit the small community of Oak Hills in Kamloops' Westsyde neighbourhood.

Sheila Webster remembers the day it happened. She was in town for an appointment when she heard the news break over the radio.

"(I was) definitely worried because of the sounds of the news," she says. "I figured there was definitely work to be done, but had no idea how much water there was at the time."

The dike in Oak Hills was undergoing construction and Webster says the work created a crevice which led to it breaking, causing a fast flood.

When Webster got back to Oak Hills, she couldn't believe how much water was affecting her community. Her home that she, her husband and their two daughters moved into three weeks prior was only accessible by boat.

Her husband took a boat to their home while Webster hung back to help people unload their things they retrieved from their homes.

"Everything that was in the basement was destroyed," Webster says. "It was definitely an experience that involved the whole city, I’d say. I mean, mobile homes were floating."

Webster says there was never a lack of help thanks to the community coming together to help their neighbours in need.

"It did affect a lot of people, it wasn’t just our story," she says. "It was an experience not to be forgotten."

Webster and her family were able to move back into their new Oak Hills home two months after the flood, and after a lot of repairs. Their basement wall had caved in due to all of the water.

Although the material loss and property damage in the area was significant, Webster is glad everyone in the community made it out alive and well. But as she looks at the river levels today, she can't help but be reminded of the situation in Oak Hills.

"We took a drive out there this morning, out to Westsyde and the river’s pretty high," she says. "I know that Oak Hills certainly wouldn’t be in trouble... (but) when the water gets high like this it certainly brings back memories of what we went through."

Oak Hills residents get around by boat during a flood in June of 1972.
Oak Hills residents get around by boat during a flood in June of 1972.
Image Credit: Sheila Webster

Both the North Thompson and South Thompson rivers are currently on a flood watch. Rivers Trail downtown along with boat launches are being shut down for public safety.

In Savona, Kamloops Lake is expected to reach historical levels. Residents are expecting shoreline flooding similar to what they saw during the 2012 flood.

For the latest on flooding in the Thompson-Okanagan, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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