British Columbia

Surprise flooding hits several Kelowna neighbourhoods

Debris torrents and blockages, possibly triggered by a rainstorm high in the watershed, caused Mill Creek to overflow, flooding homes and streets.

City official believes a rainstorm high in the watershed caused debris torrents and blockages in Mill Creek

A city truck sucks up flood water on Marshall Street. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Unexpected flooding along Kelowna's Mill Creek has made a mess of streets and homes in several locations in the city.

Listeners of CBC Radio reported seeing debris blockages under bridges that had pushed water over the banks. 

City of Kelowna's director of infrastructure later confirmed the reports.

Alan Newcombe said he suspects heavy rain Wednesday in the upper watershed washed small trees, branches and debris — maybe even a beaver dam — down into the lower creek overnight.

"As the debris came down and jammed up on some low lying foot bridges and things like that, the water backed up and flooded out onto the streets,"  said Newcombe.

Flooding near Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Submitted to CBC)

T.J. Kyle said water poured through the front door of his and other Shaugnessey Apartments basement suites, as well as into the parking garage. 

Kyle and his family, including a newborn, scrambled to get out and to save what they could. The brown water rose to over a depth of a foot in the unit. 

Flooding at the intersection of Rowcliffe Avenue and Marshall Street in Kelowna, B.C. (submitted to CBC)

Another resident told CBC the flooding has destroyed her car.

Police and the city said reports of flooding started coming in just after 3 a.m. Newcombe said crews were dispatched soon after. 

Inside TJ Kyle's flooded apartment. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Flooding was reported in the Pacific Court and Brookside area south of the Capri Mall, along the 400 and 500 blocks of Sutherland Avenue and on Bulman Road near the Kelowna Airport.

Mill Creek flows through Kelowna and flooded in both 2017 and 2018, causing extensive damage. Flood mitigation work estimated to cost $55 million was scheduled to begin this year. 

People fill sandbags in Kelowna. (submitted to CBC)

Lumby evacuation alert

Meanwhile, an evacuation alert is in place for areas of the Village of Lumby along the Duteau, Bessette and Harris creeks. 

The alert for the community, which is about 25 kilometres east of Vernon, was issued on Tuesday when all three creeks were reported to be rising rapidly. 

Lumby officials say they are unable to set up an evacuation centre due to COVID-19 restrictions.

An evacuation alert means residents are asked to be prepared to evacuate.

On Thursday the province announced that financial assistance is becoming available for victims of flooding and landslides throughout B.C.

According to a written statement from the province, disaster financial assistance is available for eligible B.C. residents impacted by overland flooding and landslide damages from April 15 to May 3 in the Cariboo Regional District and Fraser-Fort George Regional District.

Assistance is available to homeowners, residential tenants, small business owners, farmers, charitable organizations and local government bodies that were unable to obtain insurance to cover disaster-related losses.

With files from Brady Strachan and David French

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