The District of Sicamous will be seeking financial assistance from the BC government to help recoup the cost of dealing with flooding.
On Tuesday morning, July 10, Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton and Shuswap MLA George Abbott toured Two Mile to view the recovery work being done there after a Sicamous Creek overcame its banks on Saturday, June 23. A debris flow swept through the residential area and a neighbouring houseboat operation. Between a debris flow, and the residential flooding from high water in Shuswap and Mara lakes, Trouton says the cost to the district and its residents has been significant, and that he hopes the province will come to the table to help alleviate the financial burden that seems to be growing as Sicamous moves into what’s normally its busy tourist season.
“We’re a hurting community…,” says Trouton. “We need some assistance and through the whole devastation. It’s hitting our community… This is our tourist time, we’re heading into our peak and the people just aren’t here right now.”
Trouton says the district alone has seen a substantial financial impact in terms of staffing, and public works in particular.
“We’re taking manpower to sandbag and remove sandbags and do ditching and all the extra pumping and keeping people regulated so they’re not pumping into our system so it overflows – the list is endless,” says Trouton. “I have to commend them because if you weren’t at the Two Mile flood, you’d think the district is operating as normal. Other than the Do Not Consume the Water (notice), our public works is doing a fabulous job of managing and moving everything in a positive direction.”
After touring Two Mile with Abbott, Trouton was planning to meet with the BC Safety Authority to discuss another concern: residents who have had their power cut, and in some cases meters removed. According to the authority’s June 29 letter, which affected residents received July 6, power was cut to “protect both persons and property from imminent hazard created by flood damage to electrical systems.” While Trouton agrees public safety is paramount, he takes issue with the manner in which the authority acted, not providing advance notice or communication. He notes even the district hasn’t been made aware of how many properties are impacted by the order.
“I don’t think they handled it in a professional manner,” says Trouton. “You’ve got to realize, these are the people we work for. We’re all civil servants and we work for the people, and you should have a level of respect when you’re dealing with the people.”
The News attempted to contact the Safety Authority’s local electrical safety officer, but received no reply.
Another “hiccup” for Trouton and the community was in the way people from out-of-town and/or province were treated during the evacuations following the flash floods in Two Mile and Swansea Point. He says this had more to personnel issues at the evacuation centre than with policy, noting there are policies in place in the province to help visitors.
“I’ve discussed these issues with the minister’s office and we’re moving forward to go in the right direction,” said Trouton. “We learn as we go, we rebuild and move on.”
Rhona Martin, rural Sicamous-Malakwa Area E director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, hopes to improve the CSRD’s Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) through this learning process. She’s asking her constituents to try to keep track of their thoughts on what happened, what worked well and what didn’t, so the program might be improved
“They’ve done an amazing job and all the money that’s been spent for training and exercising, planning, I think has been money well spent. But we want to consistently improve the program. And that’s one of the reasons I want to hear feedback,” says Martin, respecting the fact that the recovery effort takes priority.
Overall, Abbott has been impressed with how the community, local governments and SEP have worked well together through the state of emergency experienced by Sicamous and Swansea Point.
“Unfortunately, the only way you get experience in disaster management is having disasters, and every disaster is different,” said Abbott. “And it’s always a challenge, but I think it’s been handled as well as it possibly could have been.”
Trouton says the lake level has dropped about a foot. However, Sicamous remains under a Do Not Consume order for water.
A Boil Water Advisory for Hummingbird Beach Resort was downgraded Tuesday to a Water Quality Advisory. Other areas outside the District of Sicamous remain on a Boil Water Advisory, including the following mobile home parks and subdivisions: Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park, Lakeside Trailer Park, Alpine Village Resort, Fallen Rock, Lake Mara and Westmount Acres. For more information, contact Interior Health at 250-833-4100.