Rising waters forcing more evacuations at Upper Nicola Indian Band

By Chad Klassen
May 17, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: May 17, 2017 - 6:20pm

MERRITT, B.C. — Water levels along Nicola Lake are once again forcing the Upper Nicola Indian band to take action to protect some of its band members living. 

Seven more homes have been evacuated after residents were forced to leave their homes more than a week ago. 

The ground water continues to rise on properties on upper nicola indian band land, and with that, 18 more people are temporarily without a home. 

"The situation got to the point where septic tanks were being filled and had some concern about that," said Upper Nicola Indian Band Chief Harvey McLeod. "For their safety, we evacuated seven more homes last night."

The band is pumping water out of yards, and while Nicola Lake has dropped slightly in the last two days thanks to cooler weather, the Upper Nicola Indian Band knows waters can quickly rise again.

"The water table is rising because of the level of the lake, and it has nowhere to go," said McLeod. "It's starting to come up from the ground, and we have no control over that. The only thing we can do is monitor and keep our people as safe as possible."

The TNRD has been working with the band to provide up to date information on lake levels to help with decisions on evacuations. 

"We've been doing a little contingency planning around roadways, and with water levels coming up at Stump Lake and perhaps [Highway] 5A being covering with water, we're looking at all the options to get the folks out of there."

Chief McLeod says staff and volunteers have been working up to 18 hours a day to keep the community going.

It's been an emotional time for everyone, namely the 68 people that have been forced to leave temporarily.

"There's a sense of what's happening? How long is this going to last? How long are we going to be doing all the work? When can we move home? What's going to happen after we move home?"

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