Boundary waterways to reach 100-year flood line

Shara JJ Cooper
By Shara JJ Cooper
May 14th, 2017

Last week Boundary residents were surprised by overflowing waterways that spilled into low-lying areas like Grand Forks city park and Johnstone Flats. But Alan Stanley, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Director of Environmental Services said the worst is not over. 

“The snow pack is way above normal for this time of year and with the rain… It’s being forecast that the rivers will go above the 100-year flood line. They will be above (flood lines) last weekend and we are preparing for that,” said Stanley. 

The 100-year flood is not a cycle that occurs every 100 years, but an occurance that happens one per cent of the time. With that in mind, he is encouraging any residents below the flood lines to continue sandbagging. 

“If you sandbagged last weekend, leave them up and add more sandbags.” 

The RDKB has already given out 60,000 sandbags to at least 150 properties and homes in Manly Meadows have been given an evacuation alert. 

Flooding is happening all over the province, but each situation is different. Stanley says that in areas like Kelowna, more people will be affected because the population is denser, but in the Boundary there are 200 kms of rivers and streams so while there are fewer people affected in the region, those that are affected are really going to feel it. 

Residents can prepare by sandbagging, preparing an emergency kit, letting people know where they are and not going into the flood water.

Stay safe

Staying out of flood waters is not a joke, said Stanley, noting there have already been flood related tragedies in the province. 

In addition to preparing for the floods staying away from flood waters and any area that might be eroded is a necessity. It is better to use a “better safe than sorry” protocol in waters that can be contaminated and roads that could be eroded. 

“It’s an issue of probabilities vs consequences,” said Stanley. It may seem unlikely that anything goes wrong, but if it does go wrong, it might be too late to fix. He says this is especially true of any roadways which often don’t look eroded but “one minute you are standing on them and then next it is gone.”

This was true of the highway washout near Greenwood last month, which Stanley said looked perfectly safe until it wasn’t and the road was gone. 

Similarly, river banks that are usually safe at other times of the year won’t be hardened during the spring run off and the ground can easily fall away. 

Even areas where it is unlikely to be eroded should be considered dangerous because the water could have come through a flooded septic system, or a works yard or farm pastures. Often they are full of fecal coliforms (feces) and other contaminents. 

Stanley did say that it may be necessary to stand in flood waters when sandbagging and that is unavoidable but people should use caution. 

For more information or to follow the current emergency alerts, go to www.rdkb.com where the river charts are updated throughout the day. Residents can also follow the RDKB on Twitter

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Categories: General