Help floods in for Kamloops residents affected by high water

By Jill Sperling
May 8, 2017 - 5:17pm Updated: May 8, 2017 - 6:27pm

KAMLOOPS — The City of Kamloops' Emergency Operations Centre was a busy place over the weekend, with more flash flooding caused by quickly rising creeks.

Several roads were closed, and thousands of sandbags have been handed out since Friday. 

In the nine years that Vicki Gehring and her family have lived beside Campbell Creek in Barnhartvale she has never seen the water reach the level it's currently at. 

"Every day I go out there, every two hours or so I go out and measure how high the creek is rising under the bridge," Gehring said. 

Over the past week thousands of sandbags have been placed alongside the creek in preparation for the high waters. 

"We've just had an enormous response from people, some who we know, some are total strangers coming out to help us bag up, and make this Wall of China in and around our yard here."

For that response, and the sandbags provided by the city, Gehring is grateful. 

However, she believes more could have been done to prevent the situation in the first place. 

"We approached the city and asked them if they would put a runoff culvert in this little dip right here in the road," Gehring said, "and we've talked to seasoned forestry engineers who have said that's just sort of the thing you do with any kind of creek, especially where there's maybe a danger of runnoff."

While that culvert was never installed, city crews have been busy monitoring the creek, which has already washed over Barnhartvale Rd., and flows mere centimetres from the bottom of a bridge directly in front of the Gehring property.

The City of Kamloops' emergency program coordinator, Dan Sutherland, said crews were making contingency plans in case the creek were to continue to rise. 

Noble Creek also left its banks over the weekend, but with help from Kinder Morgan, the city's public works crew was able to reset the creek to its original course. 

On Saturday, an embankment fail at Heffley Creek resulted in a washout and closure of Old Highway 5.

"That situation is now static," Sutherland said. "There's no threat to the public. For a brief period of time, for approximately 20 hours there was a loss of potable water to the upper Heffley Creek community. The Heffley Creek Water Works District did an outstanding job restoring water to the community."

Around 7,000-8,000 sandbags have been handed out in Kamloops alone, and thousands more have been provided to other communities hit by recent flooding, such as Kelowna, Lumby and the Thompson Nicola Regional District. 

The city has 300,000 additional sandbags ready to go, in case of more flooding.

For Gehring and other residents affected by the rising waters in and around Kamloops, the hope is the worst is over. 

"We're doing a lot of praying," Gehring said, "and we know that weather and runoff levels, creeks, it's all in God's hands and He's the only one who really knows where it's going."

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