Penticton has been lucky so far when it comes to damage caused by high water levels, rushing rivers and flooding.
Last night’s windstorm brought some damage to the Okanagan Lake foreshore, but not as much as might have been if city crews and volunteers hadn’t worked hard over the long weekend to get sandbags and a water-filled dam in place to protect sensitive low-lying areas.
Even so, strong winds combined with the high water level to gouge long stretches of sand out of the beach along the boardwalk and damage the popular Kiwanis Pier.
But like we said, it could have been much, much worse. So let’s offer thanks to everyone who contributed to the effort.
That includes senior city managers, who not only were out getting their hands dirty on the front lines, but were, and still are, keeping a constant flow of information to the media in order to keep the public informed of what is happening and what to prepare for.
Though some businesses reported lower numbers of visitors than expected, that was likely due to an overabundance of caution, since other than recommending people not try to float down the channel, Penticton went on as if this was any normal Victoria Day weekend, with lots of people out enjoying the sunshine and all the amenities Penticton has to offer.
Unfortunately, the crisis is not over yet for anyone in the Okanagan Valley. The level of water in Okanagan Lake has already passed the high water mark set in 1990, and it’s still rising. The peak is forecast for May 28, when it is expected to match the 1948 flood levels.
We won’t likely see water running down Penticton streets as it did in 1948 when Penticton creeks overflowed their banks. The river has seen significant modifications since that flood, and work crews are keeping an eye out for potential risk.