The Tulameen River that flows through the Town of Princeton rose eight and a half feet over the last 24 hours, but it wasn’t high enough to breach dikes.
“We dodged a bullet,” Princeton mayor Spencer Coyne told Global News on Thursday. “Last night, we were supposed to have more flooding. So we’ve been lucky.”
Already ravaged by flooding two weeks ago, the small town was bracing for more water in the wake of a third atmospheric river that rolled across B.C.
“I was up most of last night,” Coyne said.
While Coyne, along with the town of roughly 3,100, is relieved. he said the community is not out of the woods just yet.
“We still have a lot of water that has come down from the top. It’s cooling off up there, which is a positive for us,” he said.
“So right now, I think we’re stable, I think we’re in a safe place,” he said. “We just need the water table to go down so that this water has somewhere else to go.”
While the dikes in town prevented any further flooding, water from the Similkameen River overflowed onto Highway 3 outside of Princeton, forcing it to shut down Wednesday,
The highway flooded 12 kilometres east of town.
It’s a stretch of road with orphaned dikes, something the province is now reviewing after years of leaving the costly maintenance of dikes to municipalities.
“This is catastrophic,” said Gerry Haggman, who lives across the flooded highway. “We don’t need talking heads anymore. We need working hands.
“We’ve had too much of talking heads and people not accepting their responsibility and in governing the dikes and the river.”
The closure of Highway 3 has impacted Princeton and surrounding highways.
“You get a build-up of traffic down on Highway 5A and over the Hope-Princeton, and the little town of Princeton can’t handle this right now,” said Haggman. “It’s too much for them.”
With Highway 3 closed, Highway 5A was extremely busy on Thursday with non-stop commercial vehicle traffic moving between the Interior and the Lower Mainland.
“We’ve seen some pretty bad accidents in the last week … they’re heartbreaking,” Coyne said.
“They have a toll on our people as well. Those are our first responders out there and there is an impact on our community.”
The impact includes accessing the nearest hospital.
“Our main hospital is Penticton, so we’re using secondary roads like Old Hedley Road to get people to and from Penticton,” said Coyne.
It’s not known when Highway 3 will reopen.
For the latest highway conditions throughout the province, visit DriveBC.