Joe Rich, a rural community near Kelowna, B.C., has been hit by road washouts, as rain caused Dave’s Creek to burst its banks, flooding Goudie Road.
Tony Koopmans, who leads the Joe Rich Road Improvement Committee, said water levels began to rise rapidly on Wednesday afternoon.
“I went down around 4:30 p.m., and it was just about touching the asphalt. And within 45 minutes, it had crested over and then just started flowing over the road after that,” he said.
AIM Roads arrived on scene, Koopmans said, and closed off the roadway to vehicle traffic as crews conducted an assessment. The road was fully reopened by Thursday at noon.
The area is no stranger to washouts. In 2018, Goudie Road was closed due to flooding, and major erosion damaged Huckleberry Road, prompting the evacuation of eight Philpott Road properties.
Koopmans said area residents have been concerned about washouts for years, as it’s their main evacuation route if an emergency were to occur, as well as the school bus route.
“So anybody that is on the upper portion of Goudie Road or Sun Valley Road, if there was an emergency, we’d have to go back down Sun Valley to the highway,” he said.
“But if we had a forest fire down on that end, we’d have to go Huckleberry around, like a horse-shoe loop, back to the bottom end of Goudie to the highway. So if there were any problems involving those two roads, we would be stuck.”
In 2017, the Philpott Road wildfire also threatened the community, prompting the evacuation of more than 1,000 people.
Koopmans said area residents have advocated for a larger culvert to be installed under Goudie Road, or to raise the road so it’s at less risk of flooding every year.
“The road was only temporarily repaired two years ago and we were told that it was going to get a new culvert put in last year. But then, I guess because we didn’t have much snowfall, and rain, that nothing got done,” Koopmans said.
Property owners in the area are now able to access sandbags to assist them in spring freshet preparations.
If they live near creeks or streams and have experienced flooding or high water in the past, they are responsible for having the equipment needed to protect their properties from potential damage, said a media release from the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
Sandbags are available for residents of Central Okanagan East or Central Okanagan West at six RDCO fire halls. rdco.com/your-services/fire-protection.aspx