Grateful for a sandbag wall

Red Wing Resort was one of the places the B.C. Wildfire Service was helping out at on Friday, bolstering its sandbag barrier

A Red Wing Resort resident says he’s feeling grateful that a crew of B.C. Wildfire Service firefighters returned to the low-lying community to bolster its flood protections.

Less than a week after the firefighters first arrived at the private resort just north of Penticton to add a wall of sandbags along the now-sunk beach to back up the resident-built wall, crews were on the scene again on Friday to add some height and backing to the sandbag wall.

“Sure happy to see them come in here. That makes you feel like you’re fine,” said Jim Hamilton. “It was staying steady there for a while, and … now I guess they’re just getting a lot more coming in. The dam seems to be carrying the same amount away.”

Related: Red Wing resort in danger of flooding

A B.C. Wildfire supervisor overseeing the operations at Red Wing on Friday said the community was supportive of the firefighters while they did their work on the barrier.

“People keep giving us treats, and that’s really nice. We appreciate it,” said Cory Pendergraft.

“We put in some Tiger Dams … and five days ago, we put in this sandbag wall, and we just keep having to add to it.”

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen community services manager Mark Woods, who was also playing the emergency operations centre liaison role on Friday, says the work was made easier by residents who were ramping up their flood preparations weeks prior.

“The residents here at Red Wing have been working really hard to build up their defences, and then that coupled with the sandbag wall that we got built through the IA crew, it’s done a good job,” Woods said.

“The water did come up a little quicker than we’d hoped, so we raised it up a little more, added some more secure structure to the back of it, and yeah, it’s looking pretty good.”

By Friday morning, the water had come up significantly from Thursday, coming inches from breaching the B.C. Wildfire Service’s wall put up last weekend. One bench seat that had inches of space between it and the lake on Sunday was fully submerged, with just the bench’s back poking up over the water on Friday.

“I’d say it rose three inches in the last night, here, and it’s been going up constantly everyday for the last week that we’ve been here,” Pendergraft said, adding that there isn’t too much concern for the houses behind the wall.

“The wall’s holding up well. We just keep needing to add to it, just to keep these houses safe, because this is the low point right back here.”

Hamilton, too, said he’s not terribly concerned about the water continuing to rise, which is expected to continue for another couple of weeks.

“No, I’m still enjoying life here,” he said. “This is paradise.”


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