Sandra Hawthorne is stressed.
The rising waters of Trout Lake are just feet from her front door, yet flood season is still weeks away.
Located halfway between Penticton and Keremeos in B.C.’s warm Southern Interior, Trout Lake seems to be an idyllic spot. But, says Hawthorne, the lake has constantly been rising in recent years.
This winter, though, the lake didn’t recede. Now it’s at the point where her home on Taggart Crescent is on the cusp of being flooded.
Asked what it’s like to see a wall of sandbags just feet from her home, Hawthorne said “Horrible. It’s horrible. I cry … I don’t want to even say how much I cry because it’s devastating.”
Hawthorne said the current water level is six feet higher than it should be.
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“The last couple of years, it’s been worse because there’s been so much water, but it’s not going down.”
Hawthorne said she’s lived in the home for 10 years, and that only recently were sandbags needed. Last year, she said around 2,600 sandbags were used to prevent Trout Lake from flooding her home.
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Hawthorne said she went on social media, asking for sandbagging help.
“And people who we didn’t even know — and they were wonderful — they came down and helped us,” she said.
Hawthorne says there’s a possible solution to prevent her home from being flooded. A culvert used to drain the lake into a nearby gravel pit, but it’s now hidden.
“I’ve seen the culvert. I know the culvert was there, I know what it did — it was the drain for our lake,” said Hawthorne. “It’s been compromised and our lake doesn’t drain anymore.”
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When questioned about how bad things could get, Hawthorne said she was very worried.
“I don’t want to see the septic fields drain into the lake,” she said. “I don’t want to see property loss. I don’t want fish habitat to be compromised anymore. It’s not good.”
According to Hawthorne, her neighbours have also been impacted by Trout Lake’s rising waters, with one couple in jeopardy of losing their home, with water also lapping at their doorstep.
Hawthorne predicts her home — which is her second home — will need another 1,000 sandbags within the next few weeks.
“It’s compromising our house, all the properties along here,” said Hawthorne, who lives on the property full-time. “I know this is a secondary house for us, but it’s still a house. It’s still a home and the property damage is extensive.”
According to Hawthorne, the RDOS told her no funding is available because her home is not in an emergency situation and because the property is a secondary home for them.
“They will bring us sand and sandbags, but that’s all they will do,” said Hawthorne. “If we want the lake pumped, it’s up to us as homeowners to pay for that.”
Hawthorne is also putting out a call for anyone with a metal detector.
“I’m trying to find the culvert. So if anybody has a big metal detector that can come and help me find it, please!”
A spokesperson for Emergency Management B.C. says the regional district is aware of the incident and is monitoring the situation, along with provincial staff, including investigating a potentially plugged culvert.