Marine campsites remain closed until water levels drop
Update on Friday, June 29 at 4:30 p.m.
Marine campers on Shuswap Lake will have to find a new pastime for a while.
Although provincial campsites in the Shuswap are open and accepting campers, marine campsites are not.
Alan Hobler with BC Parks says the boat-in sites are the ones most impacted. When they open will depend on water levels.
"It sounds like things have peaked and have started to come down a little bit," he said Friday. "I think it will be a little while before water comes down significantly and we are able to have the beach sites open."
Besides, he noted, boats on the lake are not a good idea for both safety and environmental reasons, .
"Boats on the lake are causing a lot of erosional problems, so we're really discouraging people from being out on the lake," he said, adding that there's so much debris on the water, boating is not safe.
To keep up-to-date on the state of Shuswap Lake campsites, go to the BC Parks website. Click on 'find a park' and then search alphabetically for marine parks such as Cinnemousun Narrows and Anstey.
Update at Friday, June 29 at 12:13 p.m.
While a Do Not Consume order remains in effect for Sicamous, the order has been downgraded to a Boil Water Advisory in surrounding areas.
All Sicamous residences that rely on the Mara water intake remain under a Do Not Consume order. This is not the case for Two Mile, however, which is on its own water system. The District of Sicamous is pumping potable water into the Two Mile reservoir. As a result, residents of Two Mile now fall under a Boil Water Advisory.
Areas outside of Sicamous that fell under the Do Not Consume order are also now under a Boil Water Advisory. This includes Swansea Point and residences along Cambie-Solsqua.
According to a June 29 news release from Interior Health and the Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP), in those areas outside of Two Mile now under a Boil Water Advisory, the risk of chemical contamination is low, but the risk of illness from ingesting the water directly remains high. Therefore, until further notice, all water that may be ingested (drinking, brushing teeth, making beverages, or used in food preparation), must first be brought to and kept at a rolling boil for one minute.
Bottled water or water from an approved safe source is also recommended.
Interior Health continues to monitor the water and asses the risk daily.
For more information, contact Interior Health at 250-833-4100.
SEP has also put out a clarification regarding residences in Two Mile that are now on Evacuation Alert. These are: properties on the north side of Mervyn Rd. and Two Mile Rd. (owned by Waterway Houseboats); properties on the south side of Cartier Rd.; Montcalm Crescent (addresses 50,51,54,58,62,70,74,78); properties along the entire length of Wolfe Street, Tecumseh Rd. and Sicamous Creek Frontage Rd.; and the entire Hwy. 97A corridor.
Update at Thursday, June 28 at 12:30
Water and food are on the way to help Sicamous and area residents in need.
Nestlé Waters Canada has shipped 51,000 bottles of water from their Hope plant to Sicamous. Nestlé corporate affairs director John Challinor says the water, being distributed in partnership with the Salvation Army, should arrive at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre at noon today. Challinor says the company is also providing bottled water to Chilliwack, which has been dealing with it's own flooding concerns.
"We do this, we've helped out a number of communities over the years right across the country with donations of water, because, as you know, in an emergency, it is the most important item that people require. Beyond fresh air, they require fresh water," said Challinor.
Meanwhile, the Calgary Food Bank is in the process of putting together five-ton truck with food and water for the Eagle Valley Community food bank.
"I have a place at Swansea and was there Saturday when it all broke loose," explains Karen Warrington, the food bank's food industry co-ordinator, in an email. "I stayed to help evacuate and get supplies before returning to work Tuesday at the Calgary Food bank.
"Discussions started here Wednesday morning about how we can help as the worst is over (we hope) and now it is the clean up and sustaining the community for the next few months."
The food bank will be shipping out non-perishables and bottled water, which is expected to arrive in Sicamous sometime next week (July 4-5).
Sicamous and Swansea Point residents are still under a Do Not Consume notice relating to water.
Steele Jordan, president of Hummingbird Beach Resort, is making an appeal to the public for donations of bottled water for Swansea Point residents and those working on the clean up.
Jordan says donations can be dropped off at the Swansea Point Fire Department fire hall on Highway 97A on the corner of Davidson Road.
Jordan says that during the flooding, quick actions were taken to protect the resort and residents across Hummingbird Creek.
"As the large volume of rainfall caused a surge of water through the tributaries of Hummingbird Creek, the build-up of debris created a blockage causing the water to breach the banks and disperse throughout Swansea Point," Jordan explains in a Thursday news release . "As the threat of flooding and destruction from debris increased, we reacted quickly and took immediate action to clear debris from Hummingbird Creek so that the water could flow unobstructed and stay in the creek.
"These actions prevented any substantial damage to the resort and people's homes. Despite the upheaval, most of the area was not affected by the Mara Lake flooding. The resort is still standing and in good shape as water has dispersed into the lake."
Jordan notes the Do Not Use notice for water, followed by a Do Not Consume notice, were issued by Interior Health in response to contaminants that ended up in the lake near Sicamous' Mara Lake water intake, including a 20,000-litre gas tank that toppled.
"Not everyone fared as well, so to aid clean-up efforts, we are asking people to donate water, which will be of great benefit to home owners without water and to those working on the clean up…" says Jordan, adding that life will continue at Hummingbird despite all that's transpired.
"It's been tough, but the whole community is working together. We've had to postpone a Canada Day wine tasting and food fair at the resort to July 8th, but we will still take a break from clean up on July 1 to celebrate this great country. The holiday will take new meaning this year as things could have been much worse."
Highway 97A in Two Mile remains closed as Ministry of Transportation (MOT) work crews continue to return Sicamous Creek to its channel, as was done with Hummingbird Creek soon after the flooding. The highway is open from Grindrod to all Swansea Point property owners, and to certain Two Mile properties.
Update at Wednesday, June 27 at 2:42 p.m.
The Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) has sent out a news release stating an earlier SEP release, regarding the offer of assistance through the Rapattack program (see below) has been rescinded.
Update at Wednesday, June 27 at noon
District of Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton is asking residents pumping out their homes or yards not to be pumping water into he municipal sewer system. If possible, water should be pumped back into the lake or river. He says pumping water into municipal sewer system and storm drains increases the risk of overwhelming the municipal sewer treatment system, which is already taxed.
Also, the Rapattack Program is offering assistance with cleanup efforts to residents in 2 Mile and Swansea Point, and to those dealing with rising lake levels. The program is run by the province's Wildlife Management Branch and the Ministry of Forests.
Anyone requiring assistance from Rapattack may call 1-250-833-3350.
Update at Wednesday, June 27 at 10 a.m.
Some 2 Mile homeowners may now return to their properties.
Tuesday night, after press time, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Shuswap Emergency Program issued a partial lifting of the mandatory evacuation order for 2 Mile. This means residents of the following locations may return: properties on the south side of Cartier Road, Graham Road and Montcalm Crescent (addresses 78,74,70,62,58,54,51 and 50); the entire length of Tecumseh Road, Wolfe Road and Sicamous Creek Frontage Road.
Even with the partial lifting of the evacuation order, an evacuation alert remains in effect for all of 2 Mile.
With Highway 97A by the 2 Mile bridge still in a state of disrepair, affected residents can return to their properties from the south through Grindrod. For more information, visit www.sepadvisory.ca.
Update at Tuesday, June 26 at 5:22 p.m.
A mandatory evacuation order for Swansea Point was lifted Tuesday afternoon, but the order remains in effect for 2 Mile.
Following an inspection by helicopter of Hummingbird and Sicamous creeks Monday, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) rescinded the evacuation order for the Swansea Point subdivision. SEP warns in a Tuesday, June 26 news release that an evacuation alert remains in place for Swansea Point.
With Highway 97A still closed at 2 Mile, Swansea Point property owners can get home by the highway from Grindrod. RCMP officers will be distributing packages to Swansea residents as they return home.
As for 2 Mile, SEP states the evacuation order stands. Evacuees will be given an extension to the support they’ve received for accommodation, food, lodging, etc.
“Residents are asked to report to the Sicamous Seniors Reception Centre to complete extension forms,” states the release. Those unable to get to the centre may call 1-250-833-3350.
Residents of Swansea Point and 2 Mile were evacuated Saturday and Sunday after Hummingbird and Sicamous Creeks turned into rampant debris flows, breaching their banks, rolling across Highway 97A and through the neighbouring communities. Approximately 250 people were evacuated from Swansea Point and 80 from 2 Mile. Another 100 to 120 were houseboaters who lost their vehicles in the 2 Mile debris flow and have been unable to get home.
“They went to the evacuation centre because their vehicles were gone. The highways are closed to their homes… so what do we do with them? We have to put them up. They have nothing,” said Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton.
Trouton noted there were about five people in 2 Mile refusing to abide by the evacuation order, despite efforts by him, the RCMP and the fire department’s effort to convince them to leave. He and Fire Chief Brett Ogino later heard, however, that a few more have since evacuated.
Residents of Sicamous Sands, between the Eagle River and Shuswap Lake, were served an evacuation notice Monday evening. The above photo, taken Tuesday, shows the extent of the flooding there. Georgina Kyllo photo
Sicamous Sands residents are also on evacuation alert. On Monday, water from the Eagle River was breaching its bank while the lake was seeping over sandbags in front of properties on the foreshore, and behind properties on the lagoon. Sicamous Sands manager Ken Lapp was keeping a close eye on his water pumps and power, expecting them to go any minute.
“We’ve got one lift station that’s just on the verge of crashing and that’s for here, and my power is living on borrowed time right now,” said Lapp, clearly exhausted. “The transformer is all underwater. We’ve got it sandbagged and a pump in it, so we’re living here by the minute. As soon as my alarm goes off there, we’re toast. And if the power crashes, we’re gone even worse. But there’s basically nobody here; we’ve closed the park.”
Trouton says the latest weather update shows there may be another 15 centimetres of rain in store, but assures the district can handle it.
“Lives are safe, people are safe, we’ve had a day here to start to work on plans for infrastructure, temporary, when the evacuation order gets lifted… and that’s what we’re working on right now,” said Trouton. “So when it gets lifted, we’ll be back in there and have the people in place to assess all the damage and get the residents back in there as soon as possible.”
UPDATE at Tuesday, June 26 at 11:30 a.m.
Sicamous residents are being encouraged to conserve water or risk further compromising the municipal water system.
Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corneil, said Monday afternoon that while the water is still not safe to drink, the mandator Do Not Use order was downgraded to a Do Not Consume order, adding that this applies in Sicamous as well as Swansea Point.
"The unfortunate matter with the flood water debris is that it landed near the (water) intake for the sicamous area, and that included both gas and oil, some treated sewage, some raw sewage, as well as chemicals from one of the houseboat operations…," Corneil explained at a public meeting for evacuees held Monday afternoon at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre arena. "So, based on that, we don't actually know what the risk of the water is. Normally we're able to put a boil water advisory out and that's used to kill all the bacteria. In this case, the boil water would not get rid of any of the chemicals and things that might actually harm people, so we have placed a do not consume order on the area."
Corneil explained public works has to keep water flow going for emergency support (fire), and to keep they city's water system from collapsing. At the same time, he urged people to conserve what water there is, as it's highly turbid and will clog up the filtration system, which can also shut the water system down.
"So, if we can be careful with how much water we use, and use it sparingly, we can assure there is an ongoing flow, not just for emergencies, for fire and rescue, but also for the basics, for your family's needs," said Corneil.
Restaurants are being encouraged to use disposable plates and cutlery. And while people can wash dishes in the water, Corneil says you have to wait until they're thoroughly dried before reusing them, noting the water is still contaminated.
Also on Monday, the Provincial Emergency Program had a helicopter fly over Sicamous and Hummingbird creeks to assess their current state and if there is an impending danger of another washout. While it was unofficially announced at the rec centre that things looked positive, Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton explained this morning, Tuesday, June 26, that while Hummingbird looks good, PEP officials are not convinced that Sicamous Creek is safe yet.
Regarding Swansea Point, Trouton indicated PEP may be lifting the official evacuation order for that area shortly.
PEP and the Shuswap Emergency Program will be making an announcement at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
Trouton explained there were about five people in 2 Mile refusing to abide by the official evacuation notice, despite his, the RCMP and the fire department's effort to convince them to leave. He and Fire Chief Brett Ogino later heard, however, that a few more have since evacuated.
Regarding the 300 to 350 people who are said to have been evacuated, Trouton explains this includes not only residents of Two Mile, but also Swansea Point and other residents outside of Sicamous, as well as Waterway Houseboat customers who have lost their vehicle in the debris flow and haven't been able to get home.
"So what do we do with these people? They went to the evacuation centre because their vehicles were gone. The highways are closed to their homes… so what do we do with them? We have to put them up. They have nothing," said Trouton.
Monday evening, RCMP went around Sicamous Sands putting residents on evacuation alert. The Eagle River was flowing around properties on the far end of Sicamous Sands near the nature park, while the lake was seeping over sandbags in front of properties on the foreshore. Sicamous Sands manager Ken Lapp was keeping a close eye on his water pumps and power, expecting them to go any minute.
"We've got one lift station that's just on the verge of crashing and that's for here, and my power is living on borrowed time right now," said Lapp, clearly exhausted. "The transformer is all under water. We've got it sandbagged and a pump in it, so we're living here by the minute. As soon as my alarm goes off there, we're toast. And if the power crashes, we're gone even worse. But there's basically nobody here; we've closed the park."
Trouton says the latest weather update shows there may be another 15 centimetres of rain in store, but assures the district can handle it.
"Lives are safe, people are safe, we've had a day here to start to work on plans for infrastructure, temporary, when the evacuation order gets lifted… and that's what we're working on right now," said Trouton. "So when it gets lifted, we'll be back in there and have the people in place to assess all the damages and get the residents back in there as soon as possible."
UPDATE at Tuesday, June 26 at 11:20 a.m.
The Canada Day celebrations in Sicamous have been cancelled. This includes the planned fireworks display. Mayor Darrell Trouton says the event will now become part of the Aug. 11 Sicamous Sandfest, where a community appreciation celebration will take place. Fireworks purchased for the Canada Day event will be used at that time.
UPDATE at Tuesday, June 26 at 8:30 a.m.
Motorists are still being advised to stay away from Highway 97A between Grindrod and Sicamous.
As of 8:07 a.m. Tuesday, the Ministry of Transportation was reporting Highway 97A, three kilometres south of Sicamous at the Two Mile bridge, is closed because of damage flooding caused to the road Saturday.
There is no estimated time for the highway to be reopened.
The next scheduled update at www.drive.bc.ca is at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
UPDATE at Monday, June 25 at 6 p.m.
North Okanagan-Shuswap School District Superintendent of Schools Dave Witt says that due to flooding and associated safety concerns, schools in Sicamous will remain closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, but will open Thursday morning, June 28, to allow students to collect personal belongings, report cards and attend an awards ceremony. This includes Parkview Elementary, StrongStart, the Alternate Program, Eagle River Secondary, and Sicamous Learning Centre.
Buses will be picking up students in Malakwa and Solsqua on Thursday morning. If the pickup time is different than usual, you will be notified by our transportation department. Buses will depart Parkview Elementary at 10:10 a.m. and Eagle River at 11:20 a.m.
Update for Monday, June 25 at 3:40 p.m.
With a forecast for drier weather and a bit of luck, water levels in Shuswap Lake will begin to recede soon.
The lake level measured 349.31 Monday, about six inches higher than 1997 and about seven inches lower than 1972.
David Campbell with the BC River Forecast Centre said Monday afternoon that the smaller creeks in the area were improving.
"What that water is doing is working its way downhill into bigger systems like the Shuswap River, so we're expecting additional rising in that system downstream for a couple more days," he said in a media conference call. "We've seen tributaries into Shuswap Lake dropping off, but we're expecting a 5 to 10 cm rise today and into tomorrow."
Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Doug Lundquist says a drier pattern of weather is moving into the area over the rest of the work week.
Update for Monday, June 25 at 3 p.m.
The Shuswap Emergency Program has issued an evacuation alert for the Silver Sands area of Sicamous due to high Shuswap Lake water levels and potential health issues due to lack of potable water and disruption of sewage disposal utilities.
All occupied dwellings on Silver Sands Road and Beach Road and all other areas north of the Trans-Canada Highway and south of Eagle River, between Shuswap Lake and the CPR bridge, in the District of Sicamous have been issued an alert.
While many residents of that area have already begun a voluntary evacuation, a formal alert means residents should be prepared to leave residences on short notice.
Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation, but changing conditions may mean a short time frame for evacuation.
UPDATE for Monday, June 25 at 2:15 p.m.
All schools in Sicamous will remain closed tomorrow, June 26. More information to come.
Updated Monday, June 25 at noon
The Provincial Emergency Program and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Shuswap Emergency Program will be holding a meeting today at 3 p.m. at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre arena to provide an update to the ongoing state of emergency in Sicamous.
The meeting is a public advisory meeting for residents who have been evacuated.
With a mandatory do not use water notice in effect, the District of Sicamous has potable water is available at Finlayson Park by the museum. Bottled water is also available at the Sicamous Seniors Centre, where the emergency program has set up a registration centre for those who have been evacuated.
A second meeting will be held at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort in Salmon arm at 7 p.m.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Shuswap Emergency Program has declared a state of local emergency in the 2 Mile and Swansea Point areas, and an evacuation order is being enforced by RCMP.
The District of Sicamous has also issued a notice asking that residents not use water from the Mara water system.This is a mandatory order as boiling water will not make it safe for consumption.
North Okanagan-Shuswap School District Superintendent Dave WItt would like to let everyone know that due to flooding and associated safety concerns all schools in the Sicamous area (Parkview Elementary, StrongStart, the Alternate School, Eagle River Secondary and the Sicamous Learning Centre) are CLOSED until further notice.
Heavy rainfall on the evening of Saturday, June 23, caused Sicamous Creek to burst its banks and, according to SEP, create a new channel, subsequently impacting residents and businesses in the 2 Mile area.
Corey Paiement, information officer in the Emergency Operations Ccentre (EOC) of Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Shuswap Emergency Program, says some 40 homes are affected by the order.
Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton, who was on the scene in Two Mile Sunday at noon, said the devastating flood had already destroyed two or three homes.
Severe flooding occurred when Sicamous Creek diverted after a vehicle and other debris jammed up against a walking bridge farther downstream.
"The water flow couldn't go down to the lake, so it diverted and changed direction, flooding the Waterway Houseboats parking lot," he says. "If that wouldn't have happened, the water would have continued flowing to Mara Lake. It might have been frightening, but we wouldn't be eyeing the devastation we are now."
Shuswap Marine Freight Services has been using their barges to move people and their vehicles to safety.
He says officials had been keeping an eye on the creek that was gradually rising on Saturday and managed to get crews into the area to shut down power, water and sewer systems in case there was a break in the system.
Trouton says there are now concerns about the highway bridge and area septic systems.
"The bridge is still intact but undermined terribly," he says, noting the water is level with the bridge.
But, he adds, people are safe and the houseboat companies, RCMP, Shuswap Emergency Program and District of Sicamous are pulling together.
"People are safe, we're getting them out of there."
Meanwhile, a blocked culvert caused Hummingbird Creek overflow onto the highway at Swansea Point in Electoral Area E of the CSRD.
Paiement says there's an assessment team in the area reviewing the situation and some six homes are affected.
"In both areas, there was a tactical evacuation last night; emergency responders visited every home in the affected areas advising them of the situation," he says.
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, a local state of emergency was declared for both Swansea Point and 2 Mile.
The Sicamous Seniors' Centre located 1091 Shuswap Ave. in Sicamous is open to both people who have been evacuated or have voluntarily left their homes.
Paiement says weather wise, mother nature doesn't appear to be finished with the Shuswap yet.
Rain showers are expected over the next 24 hours, with the possibility of thunderstorms – possibly severe - later this afternoon.
"If this happens, it could include heavy rainfall of between 10 to 20 cm, accompanied by wind gusts of 50 to 60 km," says Paiement, who noted the level of Shuswap Lake at 10:30 this morning was 349.25 m, and expected to rise 25 to 30 cm over the next few days.
Anyone in need of a ride out of the Two Mile area my call Shuswap Marine Freight Services at 250-833-7677.
Sandbags are available by calling the EOC at 250-833-3350.
The News will be updating the situation as more information becomes available.
Highway 97A remains closed as work crews continue to assess the situation at 2 Mile bridge. Information on roads in the affected areas is available at drivebc.ca
Meanwhile, a warning has been issued to boaters regarding the extensive debris in Shuswap and Mara lakes. Extreme care is required.
Video: Washout at 2 Mile through the Waterway Houseboats property, by Kelly M. Dick promotions.