Penticton high school students aid in flood fight
Sydney Shular and her classmates from Princess Margaret Secondary traded in pens and paper for shovels and sandbags at the Penticton Yacht Club and Marina Tuesday.
“Right now we’re rebuilding the wall to make sure that it’s sturdier than it was before,” she said. “They probably don’t have enough workers and we have more than enough students to come help.”
The efforts were spear-headed by music teacher and yacht club member Don Grant.
“There’s a total of about 750 man hours here over the course of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We have right now 80 students,” said Grant. “We have another 50 at Firehall #2 in Penticton loading sandbags as well.”
A local business, Barry and Smith Trucking, donated school buses to transport the students.
The work is much needed to save the marina from possible flooding.
The city secured $100,000 in emergency funding from the provincial government to repair the breakwater.
It was badly damaged in last week’s wind storm.
“Some of that was failing, there were some holes that water was going through. Certainly we need to protect our marina so we’re thankful the province came on board,” said Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
Contractors are repairing the breakwater to two feet above current lake levels.
“If the breakwater doesn’t hold and we get a storm coming in, it will wipe us out,” said Terry Olfert, Commodore of the Penticton Yacht Club.
A bladder dam and protective barriers are keeping the water at bay.
“I’m guessing we’re probably in the area of 25 to 30,000 sandbags,”said Olfert.
Fortification efforts may be tested Tuesday night as Environment Canada reports the risk of a thunderstorm.
It could bring up to 15mm of rain with wind gusts up to 70km/hour.
Okanagan Lake is 16 centimetres higher than when the last windstorm struck.
Forecasters said this storm won’t be as intense or prolonged but the flood threat is far from over.
Meanwhile, Travel Penticton, the city’s tourism arm, wants visitors to know the beach at Skaha Lake is still in pristine shape.
The public was out Tuesday enjoying the sunshine while paddle boarding, tossing the frisby and building sand castles.
“The message is out there that there is flooding all over the place, and yes, there are some areas that are having some water issues for sure,” said Thom Tischik, Executive Director of Travel Penticton. “However, we do want people to know that it’s not doom and gloom.”
“I always say you know it’s flooding when your car floats past your house and we’re not having any of that here right now,” he said.
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