British Columbia

Homes evacuated and highways closed as flooding hits B.C. Interior

Evacuation orders and highway closures are in place throughout British Columbia's Interior after heavy rains caused flooding throughout the region.

Stay away from lake shores and river banks and don't drive through flooded areas, people warned

Residents put sandbags outside their homes Saturday in hopes of keeping the water away. (Josh Pagé/CBC)

Homes have been evacuated, highways are closed and at least two men are missing in British Columbia's Interior after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides throughout the region.

The City of West Kelowna, Kelowna and the Fintry Delta have all declared a state of emergency in response to the flooding.

A new evacuation order affecting nearly 100 homes in Kelowna, most of them multi-family units, was put in place late Saturday. 

Environment Canada posted severe thunderstorm watches for huge swaths of the province's central and southern Interior on Friday, where floods — caused by rain — were already raging.

The River Forecasting Centre is maintaining a flood watch for various parts of the Interior, as well as a high streamflow advisory for other parts. 

But it said a "drying trend" is expected into Sunday in the southeast region. 

A photo of the Kettle River Friday afternoon, downstream of Cascade Falls near Christina Lake. Properties along the river are under a flood watch. (Jeff Volp)

The province is urging residents in the affected areas to be cautious and follow these tips:

  • Steer clear of river and lake shorelines.
  • Recognize danger signs, such as change in water colour or rapid water level rise.
  • Do not drive through flood water.
  • Protect your home.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark was in Cache Creek late Saturday morning to survey part of the damage. A search for that town's missing fire chief, feared swept away by flood waters, has resumed. 

Man missing in Shuswap

In the Shuswap area east of Kamloops, a senior is missing after a home was swept away in a mudslide.

RCMP said the slide hit Sunnybrae Canoe Point Road in Tappen — northwest of Salmon Arm — early Saturday morning.

Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the debris "completely enveloped" one home and partially damaged others.

The missing man's family said the 76-year-old was last known to be inside the house that was swept up.

RCMP, local fire departments and Shuswap Search and Rescue all responded to the incident.

A statement said the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is doing an assessment to see if it's safe for first responders to enter the home to search.

Chief Kyle Schneider with the Tappen Sunnybrae Fire Department said there's "serious damage" to at least one home and that one car was swept out of its garage.

A truck was left half buried in the debris.

Crews were initially called out at midnight, but had to pull back as conditions worsened.

"It sounded like a freight train coming down the mountain ... We heard trees snapping and it got louder and louder, so we got out of there," Schneider told CBC.

The chief said crews were on scene at Sunnybrae Canoe Road Saturday morning — the same road where another house was cut in half in a mudslide last month.

A building was swept off its foundation by a musdslide in the Shuswap area of B.C.'s Interior. (Kat McMorrow/CBC)

Kelowna area

In and around Okanagan Lake and Kelowna, evacuation orders and alerts are in place for dozens of properties.

CBC associate producer Josh Pagé, who lives in downtown Kelowna. said Mill Creek has breached its banks and is flowing into streets and homes. 

Pagé said about 1,000 sandbags have been distributed throughout the neighbourhood. 

"We've won a few battles but we've lost more than we've won," Pagé said.

An emergency reception centre has been set up at the Salvation Army on Sutherland Avenue.

On Saturday morning, an evacuation alert remained in effect for 90 properties on Okanagan Lake in the Fintry Delta area, south of Fintry Provincial Park. An evacuation order is also in place for the park.

Later in the day, 94 more homes and one commercial property in the city were ordered to evacuate, which included 90 multi-family units and four single-family homes.

Those are gumboots under there, standing in the middle of a Kelowna road. (Josh Pagé/CBC)

More details and updates are available from the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations centre.

There are also warnings of imminent flooding with more rain from Mission Creek to East Kelowna and areas near Vernon, B.C.

At the south end of Okanagan Lake, users of the Lower Sage Mesa Water System northwest of Penticton are advised to boil water due to high turbidity.

Boil water advisories have also been issued for the city of Vernon and Westbank First Nation IR#9.


In the Kamloops area, properties along Cherry Creek just outside of the city are under evacuation order. 

Noble Creek has breached its banks near Westsyde Road and public works staff are holding back water from nearby homes with sandbags.

Kinder Morgan staff have also taken precautionary measures, as their pipeline runs through this area, said Tammy Robertson with the Kamloops Emergency Operations Centre. 

CBC Kelowna's Jaimie Kehler helps fills sandbags as flood waters hit suburban areas in the city. (Josh Pagé/CBC)

The Thompson-Nicola Region Emergency Operations Centre has been set up for residents who have been told to "evacuate immediately if in imminent danger."

It will be co-ordinating rescues and supplying sandbags for residents hit by various creek floods.

Highways flooded, closed

DriveBC has issued numerous warnings about highway conditions for a large swath of southern B.C.

Numerous instances of pooling water or flooding on highways are reported from as far north as Kamloops and as far south as Kelowna, and as far west as Cache Creek and as far east as Revelstoke.

Mudslides also resulted several closures.

With files from Rhianna Schmunk