220 Okanagan Indian Band properties remain evacuated

More than 200 properties on Okanagan Indian Band land remain evacuated as waterfront properties on reserve land at the north end of Okanagan Lake have seen widespread flooding.

The band said it is too soon to tally the the full extent of the damage caused by the ongoing flood.

“Right now we can’t even assess all the flooding damages,” said Okanagan Indian Band councillor Allan Louis.

“We won’t know probably until early August to maybe mid-August before we start looking at all the damage that’s happening in our community.”

Residents continue to battle back against high water, even as others have already lost their fight to keep their homes and cabins dry.

READ MORE: Flooded out on Okanagan Indian Band land

Cindy Brassard is among them. The Louis Estates resident once had a grassy, lakefront yard.

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Now, it looks like it’s ready to host trench warfare with lines of sandbag walls and eight pumps pushing water that seeps back into the lake.

She and other residents have been facing down powerful storms and high water levels in the lake.

READ MORE: Flooding closes Antlers Beach Regional Park in Peachland

Brassard vividly remembered one storm that happened in late May.

“We watched it come down the lake just like one of those old-fashioned sandstorms you see on TV and it hit us full force,” Brassard said.

However, she still outside in an effort to bolster her defenses against the water.

“It was terrible. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had because I thought we would lose our house but we were still out here fighting,” she said.

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Brassard’s home is one of 220 properties that have been evacuated.

However, she has stayed behind for weeks to try to protect her home.

“If we leave then there is no one here to man the pumps. If the pumps [or] the floats stick and they quit working we will lose our house,” Brassard explained.

The main part of Brassard’s home is still dry but she’s locked in a battle to keep it that way.

“I’ll fight to the end. I don’t give up,” she said.

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READ MORE: Slight rise of Okanagan Lake

Flood waters will leave a massive cleanup job once they recede.

There are concerns that the flood water could contain sewage or other hazards.

“We even have concerns about eventually when we remove those sandbags those sandbags will be contaminated as well,” Louis said.

“So there are many things we have to do in the next probably six months to actually put our lake back into a satisfied state.”