Spring flooding is underway in Thompson-Okanagan with some areas hit harder than others - InfoNews

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Spring flooding is underway in Thompson-Okanagan with some areas hit harder than others

Highway 5A near Stump Lake is being flooded with water and debris from the nearby lake.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Matt Dickinson
April 28, 2020 - 5:45 PM

Hundreds of people are on alert, houses and motels have been evacuated and roads are beginning to flood as the warm weather continues in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Seven homes, two motels and one campground have been evacuated because of significant flooding in Cache Creek, according to Wendy Coomber, communications officer with the Cache Creek Emergency Operations Centre. Now, she says, up to 300 people along the Bonaparte River are on alert.

“We’re not quite as worried about (Cache Creek), but the creek flows into the Bonaparte River in town as well, so now the river levels are quite high and we're dealing with erosion on those banks,” Coomber says. “Being a fairly old community, there's been a lot of development along the waterways and so we’ve had to prop up the bank in a few places where there's municipal infrastructure, like sewage and water lines.”

Coomber says residents are encouraged to use sandbags to protect their homes, although she is hopeful that the weather will stay cool enough for the river to maintain safe levels. She says, if needed, residents will be put up in the community hall, while trying to adhere to social distancing measures.

Along with the threat to homes and municipal infrastructure, Coomber fears for individuals who might not understand the dangers of the eroding river banks.

“We’re telling people to stay away from the banks, we don't want people falling in,” Coomber says. “People... don't realize the erosion undercuts the banks and there may only be a few inches of soil, while it looks quite solid from above.”

Cache Creek is one of several areas in the Thompson-Okanagan seeing high water levels.

If you’re driving on Highway 5A between Kamloops and Merritt, you might find a splashy stretch near Stump Lake.

“A high flood warning is in place for Highway 5A near Stump Lake, south of Kamloops, and ministry staff will continue monitoring the area,” Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Danielle Pope says in an email. “While water levels at Stump Lake remain high, Highway 5A and all local side roads in the area remain open at this time.”

You can check DriveBC for up-to-date highway travel information, and click here for a list of impacted side roads

Kamloops could see the highest flood levels in 20 years, and City staff are preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Creekside Park in Coldstream is meant to help with the annual flooding.
Creekside Park in Coldstream is meant to help with the annual flooding.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Matt Dickinson

Other municipalities, like Coldstream in the north Okanagan, are also ready for the freshest.

District of Coldstream chief administrative officer Trevor Seibel says areas of the community used to soften the impacts of flooding have already begun to fill.

“This happens every year,” Seibel says. “Creekside Park is an area that’s built to help soften when the water breaches its banks. We’re checking the creek daily and we have various checkpoints throughout the valley as we monitor it, but this is not an abnormal occurrence.”

Have you noticed any high water near you? Let us know in the comments.

— This story was corrected at 10:02 a.m. Friday, May 1, 2020 to say 300 residents on the Bonaparte River were on evacuation alert, not 300 residences as previously stated.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 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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