British Columbia

Flood fatigue sets in as Okanagan lakes and rivers continue to rise

Lakes and rivers throughout the Central Okanagan continue to rise past historic levels, but some residents are beginning to feel exhausted after weeks of dealing with floods.

Emergency officials say water levels could keep on rising until July

Kelowna resident Maria Zebeda stands in her flooded backyard on the banks of Mission Creek. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Water in lakes and rivers throughout B.C.'s central Okanagan continue to rise past historic levels, but some residents are beginning to feel exhausted after weeks of preparing and dealing with floods.

On Sunday, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre said levels for Okanagan Lake had reached 343.06 metres that morning, which exceeds levels reached during the 1948 floods.

The centre also said water flow in Mission Creek, which runs through the city, is expected to "increase significantly over the next few days" as the warm weather continues to melt the snowpack throughout the region.

That's bad news for Kelowna residents like Maria Zebeda, whose home sits near the lake and along Mission Creek. 

"This is a nightmare," Zebeda said. "It's very stressful, I think, for everybody."

Provincial workers helping

The saturated ground and high water table has already caused flooding in Zebeda's backyard, and a few days ago water began to seep into her basement. 

Zebeda, a single mother who works five days a week, said she hasn't been able to spend as much time dealing with her property as she would like to. 

That's why she's grateful for the help from provincial forestry workers who have been helping residents like her sandbag their properties for the past three weeks. 

"This is really good news that they are coming to help," she said. "Any help I appreciate. I try to do as much as I can."

Provincial forestry workers set up sandbags to help prevent flooding at a home in Kelowna, B.C. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

The emergency centre is reminding residents near Okanagan Lake and Mission Creek to build up flood protection measures like sandbags, and to leave them in place until further notice.

That's because water levels could continue to rise until July, mostly because of the snowpack continuing to melt. 

For exhausted residents like Zebeda, the idea that they may have to stay in crisis management mode for that long can be stressful. 

Having already experienced flooding in 2013, during which point she had to replace the flooring and furniture in her basement, Zebeda wants to see the city propose long-term flooding solutions. 

"We cannot still be facing this problem year after year," she said. 

With files from Brady Strachan


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