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Residents urged to prepare for floods

North Okanagan residents are being told to brace for potential flooding this spring. - Spallumcheen/NOEM photo
North Okanagan residents are being told to brace for potential flooding this spring.
— image credit: Spallumcheen/NOEM photo

North Okanagan residents are increasingly at risk from flooding and that means they must be prepared to respond.

In recent years, rivers and creeks have burst their banks while melting snow has caused extensive drainage issues in some neighbourhoods.

“We’re seeing more severe weather events and this is here to stay,” said Brent Watson, North Okanagan Emergency Management manager, adding that climate change could play a factor in the situation.

“This has to change how people deal with things.”

A common misconception is that NOEM will ride to the rescue during an emergency.

“We don’t fill sandbags. You have to do it yourself,” said Watson.

“Residents are the first line of defense and are responsible for protecting their property.”

Under its regulatory mandate, NOEM provides public information on flooding conditions, distributes sand and sand bags, activates an emergency operations centre if needed and provides support to evacuated residents.

It does not clear debris from waterways, private lands or public infrastructure, construct flood containment, initiate remedial work or take responsibility for flood management. A lot of these activities fall under the mandate of the provincial government.

Some flooding has already occurred in the region and more is possible as spring proceeds, so residents are urged to take action.

“They should be aware of their own hazards,” said Helen Sinclair, deputy manager, of tree branches that may block a creek or personal items that could be damaged by water.

Farmers should have a contingency plan to relocate livestock if water levels rise.

“People have to take ownership to prevent a disaster,” said Watson.

Considerable online resources are available to residents so they can be prepared for an emergency. They can be found at www.northokanaganem.ca.

In the last two years, there has been $12 million in disaster claims filed with senior levels of government. They are all related to flooding in Lumby, rural Lumby and rural Enderby.

For more information, call North Okanagan Emergency Management at 250-550-3232 (pre-recorded line) or e-mail northokanaganem@gmail.com.

 

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