Receding Okanagan Lake flood waters leave behind major cleanup

The Okanagan Indian Band reserve at the north end of Okanagan Lake was particularly hard hit by this year’s flooding.

Now, as the area moves to clean up after the flood, individual property owners say they’re looking at weeks and thousands of dollars in repair work.

As they face down repairs, some are wondering if the province could have done more to manage lake water levels and prevent the destruction.

In June, the images of homes and cabins deluged by flood water were as striking as they were heartbreaking. At one point, over 200 properties on Okanagan Indian Band land were evacuated.

READ MORE: Okanagan flood damage assessed in public parks and trails

Today, only eight seasonal homes remain on evacuation order because of erosion concerns.

Story continues below advertisement

It means that instead of spending their summer relaxing by the lake, impacted cabin owners are doing major repairs.

“It is quite stressful,” said Breck Sinclair as he worked on his cabin.

“This is actually our safe spot, our place where we like to chill out and it is not one of those summers.”

Don Laybourne estimates he still has weeks and thousands of dollars’ worth of work ahead of him to repair his summer home.

READ MORE: Removal of two million sandbags from Okanagan shores underway

All those expenses are out of pocket because the province does not provide disaster financial assistance for seasonal homes.

“It’s really frustrating considering I know it could have been preventable if they would have let the water out earlier this year,” said Laybourne.

The province has explained that more water wasn’t let out of Okanagan Lake because early in the year, the snow pack in the area was below normal, but that changed with a deluge of precipitation between March and May.

However, the province said an external review of the management of water levels is being done.