Vernon residents caught between a rising lake, a creek and a city-owned lot - InfoNews

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Vernon residents caught between a rising lake, a creek and a city-owned lot

Signs posted along a wall of sandbags built by local residents on a city-owned lot on Lakeshore Drive in Vernon.
May 29, 2017 - 3:26 PM

VERNON - A woman living on Okanagan Lake in Vernon is frustrated the municipality isn’t doing more to keep flood waters from encroaching onto the city-owned beach access beside her family’s home.

Kim Hendersen, who lives on Lakeshore Drive, says her family has been sandbagging their property for three weeks while Okanagan Lake continues to rise. The home is located directly on the lake, and next to raging Vernon Creek. In between the creek and the Hendersen home is a city-owned lot.

The City of Vernon has taken no steps to protect the lot from the lake or creek, leaving rising waters seeping closer to Hendersen’s home.

“I think the most frustrating part of watching this occur for us living down here is the City is our source for information, and they’ve made it very clear we need to continue to protect our properties from the rising floodwaters, and yet I don’t understand why they aren’t doing anything on their properties, even sandbagging,” she says.

The Hendersens installed their own wall of sandbags along with signs that read: “I want my home to survive” and “Please don’t touch my daddy’s sandbags.”

“We ended up having to do the sandbagging because we would like to prevent the lake from further encroaching onto our property, because no one has done anything to help us with that,” Hendersen says.

This city-owned lot sits between Vernon Creek and the Henderson home.
This city-owned lot sits between Vernon Creek and the Henderson home.

Vernon Coun. Catherine Lord sympathizes with the family, but says they're on their own. 

“It’s up to residents to protect their own property,” Lord says.

Unless there is an imminent risk to public infrastructure, the City won’t conduct flood protection measures on city-owned lots, Lord says.

“We won’t do sandbagging until it gets to the point there is imminent danger to infrastructure,” she says.

She says having city crews sandbag such properties before there is a threat to infrastructure would only take them away from other duties, such as monitoring lake levels, responding to calls, and keeping sandbag stations stocked.

“Right now our staff is spending a lot of time on the flooding situation,” Lord says.

She adds the City has been reminding residents for weeks that property owners are responsible for protecting their land, not the City.

“I can feel for her, but we’re not going to start doing the labour for private property,” Lord says.

According to a release, the City has provided roughly 100,000 sandbags to residents over the past few weeks.

Residents on Vernon Creek and Okanagan Lake are advised to take precautions to protect their property.

As for Hendersen, the sump-pump is running, the sandbags are in, and she is moving belongings to higher ground. So far, the house is still dry.

“That could change very quickly by the looks of things,” she says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 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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