Kelowna resident calling for more flood mitigation after home sustains significant damage

Click to play video: 'Kelowna resident says more needs to be done to prevent damaging floods'
Kelowna resident says more needs to be done to prevent damaging floods
Kelowna resident says more needs to be done to prevent damaging floods – Jun 15, 2022

Kelowna resident Jaime Ruvinsky has a massive and costly clean-up on her hands after Mission Creek spilled its banks early Tuesday.

The flood waters submerged her yard and spilled right into her basement.

“I think at this point, what we can see, it’s probably about $100,000 to the property and in my basement suite,” she told Global News. “But I need people to come in and assess.”

Ruvinsky’s home is off Lakeshore Road in the city’s Lower Mission area, adjacent to the creek.

She set her clock every two hours throughout the night to monitor the rising creek levels. And, at 4:30 a.m., her worst fear came true.

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“Terrifying because it’s moving water,” she said. “It’s just water in your yard. It’s pouring into your yard.”

A look at a wall of water against the basement doors at Ruvinsky’s home.

According to Ruvinsky, residents did not receive proper warnings about the potential of flooding. And she points the blame at Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.

“I could tell with the rain that happened, and where the level was at dinner time, that we were in for a long night,” Ruvinsky said. “So if I know that, why don’t they know that?”

Emergency officials said they did advise people, but were caught off guard by the amount of rain that fell.

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“There was a bit of an update that came through Environment Canada on how much rainfall was expected. We advised people in low-lying areas to prepare. Just what came in the end was a greater magnitude than what we had,” said Sandra Follack with emergency operations.

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“But we did warn people who live in the areas that are usually flooded to be prepared.  So it’s about all I can say about that. It’s an unusual event.”

Click to play video: 'Lumby hit hard by flooding after two local creeks burst their banks'
Lumby hit hard by flooding after two local creeks burst their banks

Ruvinsky believes more could be done to help protect homeowners like herself.

“This did not need to happen,” she said. “The amount of taxes I pay to live on this property, I would expect some sort of preventative help.”

She would like to see Mission Creek dredged.

“I used to get boats up here. It was very deep,” she said. “It’s so shallow now, so the amount of water doesn’t have anywhere to go.”

But local emergency officials said dredging is not up to the municipality.

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“It’s something that we bring up with the province and we talk to the River Forecast Centre about that because the creek itself is not our body to determine what to do with,” Follack said.

While property owners along Mission Creek did get a reprieve on Wednesday with sunny and dry weather, resulting in water levels receding slightly, emergency operations is warning that residents are not out of the woods just yet, as more rain is forecast in the next 24 hours.

“Environment Canada is advising us we could have up to 10 mm of rain,” Follack said.

“We still have the snowmelt to come and then we have one or two nice days and then we have another week of more rain. So we don’t know how much more, but there is going to be more.”

The forecast is prompting emergency officials to remind homeowners living along creeks and in low-lying areas to be prepared.

Click to play video: 'The latest on the storm watch in Calgary'
The latest on the storm watch in Calgary

Ruvinsky said with sandbags now protecting her property, she’s as prepared as can be.

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She’s now focused on her clean-up and coming up with the money for it, as she is not covered under flood insurance.

“You can’t have flood insurance when you live on the creek,” she said.

She’s concerned about her damaged property because it’s not only her home, but also her livelihood.

“My basement was my short-term vacation rental and that’s how I make my income,” she said.

“So it’s pretty terrifying right now that not only am I having to come up with $100,000, which I do not have to do this, but I’ve lost my income now. So it’s pretty scary.”

A GoFundMe page has now been established by Ruvinsky’s friends to help raise some of the money.

For the latest flood information or where to pick up sandbags, visit the CORD website.

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Okanagan snowpack 153% of normal as freshet continues

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