As flooding concerns continue to grow, a local state of emergency was declared for the Red Wing resort area Wednesday.
On June 7, the Penticton Indian Band — on whose land Red Wing was built — and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen announced they were in agreement about declaring the state of emergency for the gated community immediately west of the City of Penticton along Okanagan Lake and the Okanagan River Channel.
Dale Kronebusch, emergency operations supervisor for the RDOS, said one of their prime concerns is the effect of the flooding on the water table.
“It is going deeper and deeper and pretty soon it is going to penetrate under the highway and then go to the other side,” said Kronebusch.
If that happens, he explained, it could cause problems for the sandstone bluffs rising above Highway 97 and the homes on top of them.
“Once the water hits the base of that hillside, we don’t know what it is going to do and how stable it is going to be,” said Kronebusch.
“If that starts tumbling down, we know that is going to be a problem for the houses up top.”
At this time there is no call for an evacuation of any homes in the Red Wing area. The Local State of Emergency has been issued so that local responders can react quickly if required.
Declaring the state of emergency, Kronebusch said, gives the RDOS the legal framework to be able to send crews in to investigate, dig holes and track where and how the water is spreading.
Any residents affected by changes that warrant potential evacuation will be contacted directly.
Water has also begun to seep around the dam on the Okanagan River Channel, but Kronebusch said it is not a major concern at the moment.
“There is a little bit seeping around the one end where there is a natural fish ladder,” said Kronebusch, noting that the dam is structurally sound, and is constantly monitored.
Another concern is the docks that surround the lake.
“We are just getting reports that some of the docks are breaking free. If you can grab it and secure them, do it, but don’t put yourself in danger, just let it go. It is not going to end up being any good at the end of the day anyways,” said Kronebusch, who adds that people shouldn’t dispose of flood-damaged materials yet.
“We have to figure out what it is and how we can dispose of it safely,” said Kronebusch.
The RDOS is actively helping people deal with flooding. Resources include free sand and sand bags. If you require sandbags, please call the Emergency Operations Centre: 250-490-4225 or toll-free at 1-877-610-3737. For after-hours emergencies, please call the Provincial Emergency Program at 1-800-663-3456.