FLOOD WATCH: River rising rapidly
City of Kamloops officials have taped off large swaths of Riverside Park and the Interior Savings Centre parking lot as water levels continue to rise.
“We don’t see this very often,” said Jon Wilson, the city’s community safety and enforcement manager.
“I know the [city’s] senior-management group has met just to make sure everything’s covered off for now.”
As of Tuesday night (June 19), city bylaws officers had taped off the north and northwest sections of ISC’s parking lot and the entire beach of Riverside Park — all of which is under water.
Wilson said the tape is a precaution, put up because some onlookers were getting too close to the water and “tempting fate.”
In some parts of the park, the water has spilled past the benches near the beach.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued a flood watch for South Thompson and Shuswap Lake and a high streamflow advisory for the North Thompson, though a centre spokesperson said that river could be back on flood watch next week.
The South Thompson River at Chase is expected to produce flows of at least 1,400 cubic metres per second, increasing to between 1,400 and 1,600 cubic metres per second. The river’s rise is expected to continue for the next five to 10 days.
By comparison, flood levels in 1999 were 1,430 cubic metres per second and the record flood of 1948 reached 1,620 cubic metres per second. The amount and rate of rise and ultimate peak level will depend on the weather over the next two weeks.
David Jones, an Environment Canada weather specialist, said more rain is expected to hit the city Saturday and a series of storms and heavy rains could rattle through the region for the next week.
The city is asking boaters to stay off the water over the next few days as the North and South Thompson rivers continue to rise.
Public works and sustainability director David Duckworth said the city closed its boat launches on Wednesday, June 20, and is discouraging the use of watercraft in an effort to prevent further erosion of dikes and beams on the waterway.
“We’re experiencing a one-in-10 year event, with a chance the river levels could get up to a one-in-20 year event,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth said there have been some reports of “seepage” into basements on low-lying properties in the city, but mostly in areas with a history of flooding.
“Those properties largely know who they are and what needs to be done,” he said.
The city has delivered sand bags to River Street, the 3700-block of Overlander Drive, the 7200-block of Furrer Road and the Heffley Creek Trailer Park — low lying areas with a history of flooding — and is looking for volunteers to fill and place the bags.
Sand and bags are also available for free from all Kamloops firehalls, where they can be picked up around the clock, and at the city’s Public Works Centre on Concordia Way from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Seniors and residents with mobility issues can get help with sandbagging from the Seniors Outreach Society Snow Angels by calling 250-828-0600.
According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the South Thompson River at Chase is approaching 20-year flow levels, with uncertainty over the timing of the river’s peak.
Typically, the South Thompson reaches peak levels toward the third week of June; however, the combination of a delayed onset to the snowmelt season and a wetter than usual June may push the peak to the end of June or early July.