Central Okanagan residents are banding together to respond to the victims of this week’s floods.
Early Friday morning, Ethel Street resident Kris Stewart issued a plea via Facebook for anyone who could lend a hand sandbagging her property, as Mill Creek rose to threatening levels, and luckily it was heard.
“The creek seems to have plateaued … it’s flooded the back of my property,” she said. “It would have flooded my driveway, had help not arrived on time.”
Her home, which sits on about two-thirds of an acre, has one of the largest residential portions of riverfront and that’s put her in most dire need of help. It’s been estimated, however, that four to six homes in the 2800 block of Ethel Street and also in the 800 block of Burne Avenue have experienced flooding.
As waters came closer to her house, Stewart received a volume of help that took her aback.
“The city (of Kelowna) was slow to get me a truck of sand, but the fire guy from nightshift was great,” she said.
He co-ordinated getting a sand dump, and the public plea for help brought out the needed human-power.
“By the time the truck of sand arrived, I had a small team of volunteers standing by for an hour and 15 minutes,” she said.
“They’ve just dropped off a second dump truck load now, and I have so many volunteers.”
Specifically, Stewart has a bounty of Grade 10 kids from Kelowna Secondary School kicking in their time, a dozen dive guys, just as many neighbours and a smattering of others who have just answered the call.
They’re currently digging, and ensuring that the property is not severely damaged.
Although Stewart is in the throes of saving her property, several homes in the Central Okanagan have suffered the impact of rains and run-off.
Four houses on Kelowna’s Hitchner Road were damaged when a dike along McDougall Creek was breached by high stream flow. The creek flow was redirected through an orchard and flooded their homes.
Worst hit was Doug Grant, who realized late yesterday he didn’t have the insurance needed to offset the costs of the flooding damage. His basement filled twice with the dirty water flowed over the banks.
To help him, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission staff, volunteers and even some clients rallied, said the mission’s Ami Catriona.
“This morning a group gathered up boxes and headed over to the Hitchner Road home to help prevent any more flooding, and to start the messy clean up of the basement,” she said.
Randy Benson, executive director at the Mission, explained it’s just part of the work they do at the mission.
“Just like when the fires hit us a few years back, unforeseen crisis’ affect our community,” he said. “I’m thankful, as an organization, we can be of assistance. People in need aren’t necessarily just those who come through our doors. “
The floods were precipitated by heavy rainfall. In less than 24 hours, the average rainfall for the entire month— 26 millimetres—fell on the region’s landscape, running off into the nearest creeks or rivers and ending up in wetlands, ponds and lakes, said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.
That combined with a few days of warm weather created the crisis point.
Overnight thawing at mid elevations around the valley started the accumulated winter’s snow melting and running off “at an aggressive rate” over the weekend, said Dave Campbell, head of the River Forecast Centre in Victoria.
A weather eye is being kept on water levels, but in the meantime those looking to pitch in can contact the Gospel Mission at 250-763-3737.