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FLOOD WATCH 2017: Why you should stay clear of flooding creeks and streams

Campbell Creek Road is getting thrashed with floodwater.
May 11, 2017 - 1:04 PM


THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – You might be curious and tempted to check out local creeks and streams to witness the expected flooding today and this weekend, but before you do, consider this: Trained and experienced search and rescue members will not go within 16 feet of moving water, and neither should you.

Communities in B.C.’s Interior are on high alert because of recent flooding and today’s daunting forecast of rain and storms promises to make matters even worse.

As floodwaters rise, one message is absolutely crucial: stay away from moving water.

Search manager Alan Hobler says as a rule, no search and rescue personnel will go near moving water without extensive emergency gear. Looks can be deceiving in cases where water has eroded the bottom of a bank, leaving the top section fragile, but seemingly in tact.

“During flood events, riverbanks get undercut from the erosion, sometimes they are vertical and sometimes they are undercut. If you are too close to the edge, it will collapse,” Hobler says.

The crumbling of a bank is just the beginning. A hazard especially worrisome during flood events is debris like tree roots, logs, branches that can entrap someone after they fall into the water.

“Survivability in these situations is dramatically lower,” Hobler says.

Why would anyone put themselves in such danger? Sometimes owners will run after a pet and fall in themselves, according to Hobler. Other times people are simply too close. Banks can crumble in an instant when people are travelling or even looking at the water levels.

“They might feel like they are making a choice on acceptable level of risk for themselves,” Hobler says. “When they choose to do that, they are putting additional pressure on emergency response works and search and rescue. If they are in jeopardy they are taking valuable resources away from others.”

Get caught up on spring flood coverage here

Parts of Jamieson Creek Road in Kamloops have been completely washed away.
Parts of Jamieson Creek Road in Kamloops have been completely washed away.

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