Heavy rain prompts evacuations, cautions, and delays

Intense rain and already-high water levels in local creeks and rivers are threatening parts of the RDCK.

Intense rain and already-high water levels in local creeks and rivers are threatening a number of residents and homes across parts of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Rainfall has swollen creeks and rivers across the region, causing mudslides and cutting off some roads, according to Bill Macpherson, a public information officer with the emergency operations centre, which was re-activated Saturday, June 23.

States of local emergency had been declared and evacuation orders issued for parts of Pass Creek, the Slocan Valley, and areas north of Robson.

• Three homes were affected in the Pass Creek/Goose Creek area. The Pass Creek fire department is helping emergency responders. A private bridge over Goose Creek washed out, and a man fell in and drowned.

Traffic on Pass Creek Road was being controlled by Ministry of Transportation flaggers.

• A section of Slocan Valley West Road was closed due to water flowing over the road until further assessment and remediation planning could occur. Residents of about 30 homes had been told to “shelter in place.”

A flyover of the affected areas shows the Slocan River was affecting land bordering its banks and had considerable debris flow, although it has dropped slightly from peak level, Macpherson said.

An emergency social services reception centre has been opened at the Slocan Park hall.

• One resident was evacuated from Picard Road, northwest of Winlaw, under an order issued for two homes where low-lying properties border the Slocan River, which is at a 25-year high.

• In Crawford Bay, an evacuation alert has been issued for four homes after a section of the bank of Crawford Creek experienced “water overtopping and piping through” in places.

• Broadwater Road north of Robson has been opened to single lane traffic following a landslide that closed the road Saturday evening between Deer Park and McLean Road, cutting off access from Syringa Provincial Park and Scottie’s Marina. One home was evacuated.

Ministry of Transportation contractors were able to get the road passable for campers at the park and Deer Park residents this afternoon.

Local search and rescue groups have worked with all emergency response organizations to make sure all residents have been notified of the situation.

Macpherson says while river and creek levels have dropped slightly, the threat of flooding remains high.

“Owners of private bridges that cross creeks should have them inspected to ensure structural integrity and personal safety,” he said.

“All Kootenay rivers and creeks are at high levels given the recent precipitation and high elevation snowpack melt. Residents are reminded to stay clear of creeks and rivers, and their banks, and exercise caution at all times. Evacuation orders/alerts must be heeded to ensure personal safety and the safety of emergency responders.”

Macpherson says Kootenay Lake residents should be aware of the potential for high winds from localized thunderstorms over the next few days. Sandbags and sand are available at local fire halls.

Delays are also expected on the Glade ferry due to heavy debris in the river.

Nakusp Fire Chief and Central Kootenay Emergency Preparedness Co-ordinator Terry Warren said although Nakusp and area isn’t prone to flooding, generally, washouts are common.

The biggest disruption has been the closure of the Trans-Canada between Perry River and Revelstoke, which resulted in multiple-hour waits at Shelter Bay and Fauquier ferry crossings.

Interior Health has also released a public service announcement on June 24, 2012 warning Kootenay boundary residents to be cautious of their drinking water, during this time of heavy rainfall and flooding. IHA is advising people to check with their water supplier, if they have one, and to boil water if they don’t.

Food that has come in contact with floodwaters should be thrown out, said the Health Authority.

Eating potentially contaminated food isn’t the only issue.

“Septic systems can be affected by flood waters as water levels rise,” said Karl Hardt, Communications Officer for Interior Health. To minimize the impact, people with septic fields should try to reduce the amount of water going into the system. Like the saying goes: “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”