By Matt Meuse, CBC News
The mayor of Kelowna, B.C., is warning residents to prepare for dramatic flooding expected to begin Thursday evening as heavy rain returns to the southern Interior.
“Over the next few days, we will see water levels in our city — particularly in creeks and in our lakes — reach levels we’ve never seen before,” Mayor Colin Basran said in a video posted online by the City of Kelowna.
“I know we got a bit of a taste of it this past weekend, and by all accounts we will see flooding to that level and possibly beyond.”
Basran urged residents — even those in upland areas — to take protective measures like building sandbag berms to protect property, and to prepare 72-hour emergency preparedness kits. He said the rain may also cause road washouts and landslides.
Check in on friends
Basran also asked residents to check in on friends, family and neighbours, and to consider taking those people into their homes if possible, because hotels in Kelowna are nearing capacity.
“This is the time now where as a community, we need to come together and look after each other,” Basran said.
Todd Cashin, suburban and rural planning manager with the City of Kelowna, said much of downtown Kelowna is at risk of flooding from Mission and Mill creeks. He said the city has been diking to prepare, but historically much of the area has acted as a spillway for the two creeks.
“You’ll see some old photos from the 1930s — basically the whole area, the flat part of Kelowna — is on a floodplain,” Cashin said.
Rain began this morning in Kelowna. Cashin says peak water levels are generally expected 12 to 18 hours after that.
Information about emergency preparedness kits and where to obtain sand and sandbags is available on the Central Okanagan Regional District’s website.
Alerts in effect across province
Hundreds of people around the province remain out of their homes after numerous evacuation orders were issued during last week’s flooding.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre has posted a flood watch for the Salmon River in Shuswap, while high streamflow advisories cover most waterways across the southern and southeastern parts of the province.
High streamflow advisories are also in place for northern parts of the province, including the Bulkley Valley, northeast B.C. and the Peace region.
Environment Canada warned storms packing up to 70 millimetres of rain are expected by Friday and could drop a further 20 to 30 millimetres across northern regions by Saturday.
Severe thunderstorm watches were issued for parts of the central and southern Interior, with the potential for strong winds, hail and heavy rain.
Real time streamflow data can be viewed on the River Forecast Centre’s website.