Salmon River upgraded to flood warning status

BC River Forecast Centre predicts record stream flows due to rainfall.

Things do not look promising for people whose properties are threatened by flooding from the Salmon River.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the B.C. River Forecast Centre added the Salmon River to its list of flood warnings. The Shuswap was previously listed under a wide-spread category of flood watch.

“Following several days of warm weather and rapid snowmelt, Wednesday has transitioned into rainy weather through much of the BC Interior,” states the flood warning. “As of Wednesday afternoon, the largest rainfall amounts have been through the Okanagan, Boundary and Salmon Arm regions, with rainfall amounts in the 5- to 30-millimeter range being observed.”

It stated river levels began responding to the rainfall Wednesday and rapid rises in levels were expected through Wednesday and into Thursday.

Related: Silver Creek residents return home

The Salmon River was listed as a ‘key river,’ flowing at 60 cubic metres per second with peak flows of approximately 65 to 75 cubic metres forecast for Thursday. The Thursday flows are listed as 50-year to 100-year events.

Then, while warm temperatures forecast for the weekend may be welcomed by gardeners and outdoors enthusiasts, they may also be a key ingredient in a perfect recipe for more flooding.

The higher temperatures – predicted in the mid- to high-20s for Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Salmon Arm – could add to the rapid melt of the larger than average snow pack.

Earlier in the week, David Campbell with B.C.’s River Forecast Centre said the snow pack is, on average, “168 per cent of normal across the province.”

Related: Silver Creek rallies to battle flooding

Combined with mid-week rain, the predicted snow melt may add to high water levels.

“So it could be another challenging week in terms of flows across the Interior,” Campbell said.

Last Saturday, May 6, Silver Creek residents Kris and Laise Reeb and their three young children abandoned their home of less than a year when a creek breached the large berm around their property on Johnson Road. They are living in Kamloops until water levels recede.

Farther south in the 500 block of Salmon River Road, residents like Maria Otting and Thomas Koppel have been sandbagging and pumping water for days and weeks in an effort to hold off the floods that burst into their homes last April. Still farther, in the 1600 block of Salmon River Road where residents were evacuated last year, work continues on Haines Creek. On April 22, 2017, residents of 10 properties there were under evacuation order overnight after water began flowing over the road near the community park.

Related: Silver Creek flood leaves questions

Tom Hansen, emergency program coordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, said provincial crews were back working on drainage in that area. He’s requested assessment of the slopes above and watercourse from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations by a qualified professional.

Closer to Falkland, the bridge on Dear Road on the way to Falkland was flooded Wednesday, so residents were being asked to avoid that.

In Salmon Arm, residents have been eyeing the Salmon River Bridge near DeMille’s Farm Market all week as water licks at the underside of the bridge deck.

“The river has reached this level and higher a number of times in the past,” stated an email from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure earlier in the week. It noted that a ministry bridge manager had been on site to assess the bridge. “There is no immediate threat to the bridge and it remains open.”

Related: Canoe home saved from flooding

To the west, this year Sorrento is again seeing water damage undercutting the banks on Caen Road. Water also flowed over Dieppe Road, exposing a gas line.

Hansen said officials are reviewing the Sunnybrae side of the lake where mudslides devastated an area last year, leaving one resident dead. He said a community meeting was held to discuss the current situation.

Out in Eagle Bay, he says the fire chief has informed the emergency program there are no problems at this time.

The road next to Skimikin Lake has flooded again this year. Hansen says MOTI informed him that when it floods, signs are put up warning motorists and, if it gets too high, it’s blocked so motorists must detour.

At the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band, a state of emergency was declared for one residence on May 8 because Chum Creek has broken over its banks, cutting a swath through Charlotte Francois’ land, threatening to cut off her house from the roadway.

Doug Brown, administrator for the band, said the plan is to haul rip rap and use an excavator to establish a new route for the creek.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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