Provincial wildfire crews sandbag on May 15 at DeMille’s Farm Market and properties on Salmon River Road to help residents prepare for potential peak river levels next week which may be caused by melting snowpacks. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Peak levels for Salmon River forecast for next week

Flow levels may surpass last week’s surge, provincial crews in Salmon Arm to help residents prepare.

The threat of higher water in the Shuswap appears to have ebbed for the next few days, but provincial crews have arrived to help prepare for what’s forecast for next week.

Seventeen B.C. wildfire crew members have set up in Salmon Arm, putting their muscles and expertise to work augmenting residents’ efforts to stave off further flooding.

When their work will be tested remains to be seen. Like the rivers and creeks, the forecast for peak water levels changes from day to day.

As of Tuesday, May 15, officials were predicting that this week will see stream flows remain relatively stable, but next week peak levels are expected.

Related: Unseasonable heat melts heavy snowpacks in B.C., making floods more likely

Derek Sutherland, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s team leader with protective services, says river flow levels of 80 cubic metres per second are forecast for the middle of next week – around the 23rd or 24th.

To put that level into perspective, the overnight surge on May 9 and 10 that’s been called a 100-year flood was measured at 77.7, so next week it’s possible the flooding could be even worse. On Sunday, Salmon River levels had receded to the high 50s.

“It’s a bit of a reprieve,” Sutherland says of this week’s forecast, “but we have the unit crews working to help support the sandbagging situation in the Salmon River Valley.”

He says the crews, who are staying in a hotel, are here to work 10 hours a day for seven days.

“These guys are pros. They’re experts in sandbagging, fit young men and women. They can get a lot done in a short amount of time.”

Related: Salmon River upgraded to flood warning status

Properties have been triaged based on factors such as how vulnerable the residents are, how close they are to flood water and what the consequences will be for their property if stream flows reach 80, Sutherland says.

“They come equipped ready to work, they don’t even need us to get them a lunch,” he enthuses about the crews. “They’re used to being deployed.”

“What we’re looking at, many of our residents in the Salmon River Valley, they’re exhausted, they’re stressed, sandbagging is really taking a toll on them. We’re hoping to get a lot of work done in a relatively short amount of time.”

Tuesday morning the crews were at DeMille’s Farm Market, placing gabion baskets and sandbags to halt the river that crept into the market’s parking lot last week – the highest that owner Brad DeMille has ever seen it. Gabion baskets are like a faster, higher, bigger sandbag, Sutherland explains.

Crews were also heading to properties along Salmon River Road.

Related: Okanagan Shuswap flood watch to intensify over next week

Sutherland says although the snowpack on the immediate hills is all but gone, snow from mountains farther away will still impact local creeks.

“The saving grace is that there’s no rain in the forecast. If that changes and there is rain to add to the snow melt, we would expect the stream flows to increase.”

If residents require support, including sand and sandbags, they’re asked to contact the Shuswap Emergency Program at 250-832-2424.

As for other areas in the region, such as Sunnybrae, Sutherland says landslides, unlike floods, are a lot more difficult to predict. However, the CSRD is participating in a mapping project to identify flood risks there.

He says there is still some debris above the 4400 block of Sunnybrae-Canoe Point Road, and a couple of houses are on longstanding evacuation alerts and one is on an evacuation order.

“We’re keeping our eye on those situations…”

Skimikin Lake has flooded over the road in the CSRD, but Sutherland says it’s “not an overly serious situation.”

The CSRD also reports that the Reinecker Creek trail system is closed due to high creek levels. In the same area, BC Parks has closed the Upper Herald trail that links to Reinecker. And the popular Margaret Falls trail remains closed for the season for repairs from last year’s floods.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

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)

Just Posted

In photos: Monashee Mountain Men Black Powder Shoot

Black powder firearms enthusiasts gathered together to test their skills at the… Continue reading

Reel Reviews: Atypical college life

We say, “Life of the Party is pleasant and harmless.”

Caravan Farm Theatre fundraiser embraces outlaw spirit

The third annual Hands Up! Live Auction Fundraisder is June 2

In Photos: Trooper attracts a crowd on Shuswap Lake

Hundreds of boats turn up to watch the Canadian rockers play atop a 94 foot houseboat

Salmon Arm Secondary hosts B.C. mountain biking championships

Over 200 riders expected to hit the trails May 25-26

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

The Okanagan shines in foodie finalist list

Western Living has released their 2018 list of finalists

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Most Read