Local states of emergency declared in Kelowna and Sparwood due to flooding

·2 min read
Sandbagging efforts in Fernie, B.C., after a flood warning was issued for the Elk River.  (Ange Qualizza - image credit)
Sandbagging efforts in Fernie, B.C., after a flood warning was issued for the Elk River. (Ange Qualizza - image credit)

A local state of emergency has been declared in Kelowna, as isolated flooding threatens properties along three creeks in the area. Meanwhile, a small community in southeast British Columbia has announced an evacuation alert and local state of emergency, as heavy rain and a late spring thaw combine to swell rivers across many parts of the province.

In Kelowna, Mission Creek, Scotty Creek and the upper reaches of Mill Creek are affected, according to officials with Central Okanagan Emergency Operations (COEO).

"This rain event was not predicted," said Sandra Follock, the deputy chief of the Kelowna Fire Department.

"There's still some snowpack that's going to melt, so we are anticipating a little more impact coming in, but right now it's really hard to assess," said Follock.

She said weather forecasts warned of 20 millimetres of rain, but the area got more than 65 millimetres in a short period of time, leading to isolated flooding and debris flowing down the creeks.

Follock expects the local state of emergency to last at least four or five days.

In the province's southeast, the District of Sparwood declared an evacuation alert for two mobile home parks and several properties along the nearby Elk River, which is under a flood warning. The alert comes after 52 millimetres of rain recently deluged the community.

Shelley Joyce/CBC News
Shelley Joyce/CBC News

A few kilometres down river, Fernie is also preparing for flooding, but the city said in a statement that the river is currently at a normal level for spring.

Mayor Ange Qualizza told CBC the city is being proactive should things worsen, with sandbagging and other measures in place after the community activated its emergency operations centre Monday.

The city suffered a devastating flood in 2013 and Quallizza says since then, a lot of resources have been invested in flood mitigation.

"The cost of reacting to a flood event and fixing broken infrastructure, it's estimated to be 14 to 20 times more expensive than just investing in the mitigation," she said.

The community of Six Mile, north of Nelson, is also under evacuation alert, while a flood warning has also been issued for the Liard River in northeast B.C.

Shelley Joyce/CBC News
Shelley Joyce/CBC News

High stream flow advisories are in effect for the Fraser River and several areas of the B.C. Interior.

Environment Canada says rain and snowfall warnings currently remain in effect across southeast B.C., but could lift as the storm moves east.

In Vernon, Regional District North Okanagan has closed sections of the BX Creek trail due to BX Creek swelling past its banks.

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