British Columbia

Kelowna mayor warns residents to prepare for unprecedented flooding

The mayor of Kelowna, B.C., is warning residents to prepare for dramatic flooding as heavy rain returns to the southern Interior. Other communities in the region are also bracing for more water.

'As a community, we need to come together and look after each other'

Residents watch water levels rise atop the Gellatly Road bridge in the City of West Kelowna. (Manjula Dufresne/CBC)

The mayor of Kelowna, B.C., is warning residents to prepare for dramatic flooding as heavy rain returns to the province's 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 Thursday 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.

Kelowna residents pitch in to help fill sandbags. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

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," he said.

Todd Cashin, the city's suburban and rural planning manager, said much of downtown Kelowna is at risk of flooding from Mission and Mill Creeks. The city has been diking to prepare, he said, but historically much of the area has acted as a spillway for the two creeks.

A floodplain map of downtown Kelowna shows one area where the city expects may be at significant risk of flooding Thursday evening. (City of Kelowna)

"You'll see some old photos from the 1930s — basically the whole area, the flat part of Kelowna — is on a flood plain," Cashin said.

Information about emergency preparedness kits and where to obtain sand and sandbags is available on the Central Okanagan Regional District's website.

Rowboat waiting at the flooded entrance to Holiday park resort near Kelowna. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

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.

Residents of Holiday Park Resort fill sandbags. (Christer Waara/CBC)

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.

An emergency operations centre prepares to open in Kelowna. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak South and The Canadian Press