Good Samaritans help Maria Otting and Thomas Koppel on Thursday, May 10 to build a berm around their home on Salmon River Road to prevent it from being flooded further. (Martha Wickett/ Salmon Arm Observer)

Flood waters causing destruction in Silver Creek

Some residents say they have never seen the water levels so high.

Silver Creek residents have been prepping for high water in light of last year’s flooding, but what’s happening in some areas is going way beyond expectations. Some people haven’t seen this kind of flooding for 50 years.

Maria Otting and Thomas Koppel, who live in the 500 block of Salmon River Road, have been sandbagging each night till 9 o’clock, adding 1,000 bags each day to a large berm between their property and the Salmon River. They’ve also been pumping water out of their field. They wanted to make sure they wouldn’t have to deal with flooding like they did last year.

But sometime between midnight and 1:30 Thursday morning, their hopes were drowned when the river pushed its way through the berm and onto their field and into their house – leaving a foot of water and sewage in their basement.

Alice and Gary Hucul next door experienced the same destruction. Despite having been sandbagging for three weeks and being prepared for much higher-than-usual water levels, their efforts ended in defeat.

The groundwater had started rising the Friday before, so they had started pumping. But things were manageable. When they went to bed Wednesday night, there was about six inches of water behind the berm. But when they got up at 2:30 a.m. Thursday to put more gas in the pumps, the water levels were a shock – two feet of water in the previously dry basement and three feet in the yard.

Alice mentions that a family member has been in the area for 50 years and has never seen anything like this.

Related: Flood water rise in Falkland

Barb Puetz lives in the 700 block of Salmon River Road with her spouse Gene – who has a fish ladder and has been counting salmon on the Salmon River for 30 years. They started pumping ground water out of their basement at the end of March, yet they haven’t escaped. Their house is OK, but their barns are flooded. She, too, says her family members say this hasn’t happened for more than 50 years.

Rhiannon Best, who lives in the 1400 block of Salmon River Road, says there was a little bit of water by the shop on her family’s property on Wednesday morning, but they’d sandbagged and felt ready. When she came home from work, however, the shop, pens, chicken coops and hay storage were all under water. She hadn’t had time to move the hay, but thought she would be able to do it Thursday night. That wasn’t to be. So far her house is safe.

Looking on the bright side, Best says maybe her kids will be able to go kayaking on the property.

Related: Salmon River upgraded to flood warning status

Norman Pierce lives on Johnson Road, off Salmon River Road, where a family was evacuated last weekend when their house flooded. Pierce says he’s lived on the road for 43 years and has never seen the water this high.

Back in town, Brad DeMille of DeMille’s Farm Market says he doesn’t remember the levels this high either. As he talks, he motions to the large pool that has filled a good portion of his parking lot. With his characteristic humour, he’s put up a “low wake” sign and suggests people come in, get their tires cleaned for free and buy some excellent fresh asparagus.

Not far from his business, the corner of 10th Avenue SW, near where it leaves the Trans-Canada Highway, has flooded. Signs of ‘flood warning’ give motorists notice they should slow down.

Related: Evacuation Orders issued for 2,500 in B.C.’s Kootenay-Boundary region

On Thursday, water was still licking at the underside of the Salmon River Bridge, but a crew is staked there round the clock to keep an eye on it. Thursday morning an excavator was brought in to remove a log that had jammed under the bridge, as it could have created a build-up of debris underneath and prevented the water from flowing freely. The highway was closed for about half an hour.

The BC River Forecast Centre has warned that warmer temperatures over the weekend could melt the larger-than-normal snowpack, bringing even higher water levels.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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Brad DeMille, owner of DeMille’s Farm Market, stands in front of a pool of water that now covers part of his parking lot on Thursday, May 10. He hasn’t seen the river levels this high ever, and has put up a ‘low wake’ sign in his new pool. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

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