A small community in the North Okanagan has issued an evacuation alert for creekside residents as the water rises rapidly during the spring runoff.
The Village of Lumby issued the evacuation alert for 70 units for dozens of properties on Tuesday, but the media was informed in an email issued Thursday morning.
All residents of properties located directly on the Duteau, Bessette and Harris creeks must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice should high water pose a more significant threat.
The impacted areas include Bessette Street, Faulkner Avenue, Glencaird Street, Heighway Crescent, Maple Street, Shuswap Avenue, Vale Avenue, Vernon Street and Quesnel Road.
The mayor of Lumby, Kevin Acton, said the main worry is the snowmelt, and, combined with rain, “this week would be the highest that the creek is probably going to be, so we wanted to make sure that everybody was ready and had lots of notice that they might have to pack up and leave their homes if the creek breaches its banks.”
Lumby said the creek rose recently, but that it appears to have decreased Thursday.
“We’re looking like we’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “I think most of the snow at the Aberdeen plateau has melted away. So as long as we don’t get any heavy rain, and it stays a little bit cooler in the evenings, we should be good coming out at the end of this week.”
Residents under an evacuation alert are also encouraged to locate all family members and designate a meeting area in a safe place, should an order be called while separated.
They’re being asked to pack essential items, such as government-issued ID, medications and valuable papers, for quick departure, prepare to move vulnerable people who may require assistance, and arrange transportation and accommodation in case residents are forced from their homes.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued a high stream flow advisory for the North Okanagan, including tributaries around Vernon, Lumby and Winfield.
“River levels have been responding to snowmelt and rainfall,” the advisory says, and five to 15 millimetres of rain fell over the region in the past 24 hours.
The forecast centre says Bessette Creek is approaching a two-year flow rate and has eased slightly over the past two days.
The bike park and Salmon Trail have also been closed due to high creek levels, according to the White Valley Parks, Recreation & Culture Facebook page.
Acton noted that the village is reminding residents “that protection of their own personal property is their obligation. Unfortunately, the municipality has no obligation, or the resources, to protect private property.”
The mayor continued, saying “we have a hard enough task protecting our own infrastructure during these times and floods. But we are here for emergency services if something happens and people need help.
“We’re definitely here to help. But as far as protecting your property from fires and floods and other things, it really is personal property responsibility.”
“That’s the message we’ve been really trying to drive home because we don’t want people at the last minute coming to us with their houses and basements being flooded and looking for help, because it’s just not there.”