May 22, 2017 2:06 pm
Updated: May 22, 2017 9:08 pm

20,000 sandbags deployed in Penticton to combat wave surge

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Penticton is calling in reinforcements to combat the rising flood threat.

Provincial forestry crews bagged 20,000 sandbags today as a piece of equipment pumped out 1,600 sandbags an hour.

“We’ve had 19 personnel from the Monashee crew out of Revelstoke, they arrived in our West Kelowna camp last night and they are now hitting the ground here in Penticton,” said Dale Bojahra, spokesperson for the BC Wildfire Service.

Fears of a flood have risen along with the level of Okanagan Lake, which is already at a 20-year high.

“We came up four centimeters last night and we’re expecting some wind and heavy weather tomorrow night so our concern at this point is the wave action,” said Penticton CAO Peter Weeber.

City officials believe the wave surge from strong winds could batter the shoreline of Okanagan Lake near the SS Sicamous.

A special weather statement issued by Environment Canada warns the storm will roll in Tuesday night.

It could threaten the Rose Garden and city infrastructure.

A spray-painted line across the beachfront grass shows how high engineers believe the waves could get.

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All reinforcements are on loan from the province.

“We’re in a response phase of this event so right now the Province of British Columbia is supplying us with everything — the sandbagging machines, the resources, they’re covering all staff time after hours but tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. we’re back on the city’s tab because that’s regular working hours,” Weeber said.

The public is also being warned to stay away from the Penticton Channel, which is normally a popular tubing destination for tourists.

City officials say large volumes of fast-moving water, strong currents and undertows could result in severe injury for users.

Despite high water, visitors enjoying the sunshine during the May long weekend are taking it all in stride.

“Still can go to the docks, sit on the beach,” one beachgoer said.

“No it hasn’t hampered my trip at all,” said another.

As temperatures reached 30 degrees Tuesday the scorching heat will also accelerate the snow melt, posing a further flood threat.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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