The Okanagan Basin Water Board has created a floodplain map from the 2017 floods. (Okanagan Flood Story)

Okanagan’s flood story opens new preparedness chapter

History of flooding, particularly 2017 events, prompt resource website

Taking a page from history, the Okanagan is getting ready to battle the reality of future flooding.

The Okanagan Flood Story has been created online to show historic and current events, floodplain maps, changing climate and resources.

“It started out following the historic Okanagan flooding in 2017,” said Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board. “We had only a handful of quite outdated maps and they didn’t cover all of the lakeshores.”

The Story, which is online at the OBWB website, was a $2.5 million project (funded) over two years and launched May 6, 2020.

“Because of this mapping project we are much better prepared,” said Warwick Sears. “The risk of flooding has always been with us and now we have an opportunity to understand the risks better.”

The new tool will assist residents, businesses and communities moving forward with the various components including an address search that will detail flooding anticipations.

“We shared this with a fire chief in particular who said this would have been fantastic to have in 2017, 2018,” said Julie Van de Valk, flood risk specialist with Northwest Hydraulic Consultants.

Osoyoos Mayor and OBWB chairperson Sue McKortoff recalls a resident wanting such a resource during those historic floods.

“He asked: ‘How do I know whether my property might be flooded if the lake goes up a little bit?’ And I think this project answers that question,” said McKortoff. “Even people not on the lake will be able to look at this and figure out what level they might need to start putting sandbags around their property.”

While 2017 record flood year for Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes, the resource also includes data dating back 200 years.

And, it may be updated as future events take place.

“The potential for flooding in the Okanagan is expected to increase,” said Piotr Kurás, NHC team lead.

Currently, the flood risk for the Okanagan is highest in the north (with concerns near Salmon Arm Creek) while the rest of the valley could sneak through spring without getting too wet.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to have floods but it all depends on mother nature,” said McKortoff, after speaking with the River Forecast Centre.

The Okanagan Flood Story comes at a perfect time for many communities as they are dealing with typical flood season.

“This is not only emergency preparedness week but we are looking at the spring freshet and in Osoyoos, it’s raining so we’ve got a little bit of everything and this is helpful,” said McKortoff. “We already have sandbags and sand ready, we’re hoping we aren’t going to need it this year, but we certainly are ready.”

McKortoff has lived in Osoyoos for 50 years and has seen several changes over the years. That includes 1974 floods, which prompted new building levels, which has left her wondering if even newer levels are needed now.

The Flood Story is anticipated to spur such questions, along with potential insurance concerns. Homeowners are advised to contact their insurance providers to discuss.

READ MORE: Dry summer anticipated for Okanagan

READ MORE: Be prepared: City of Vernon


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

flooding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Okanagan Basin Water Board’s floodplain map shows the north of Okanagan Lake in Vernon. (Okanagan Flood Story)

Flooding in Vernon near Barnard Avenue (30th Ave.) with drainpipes awaiting installment, 1906. (Vernon Museum and Archives photo 1431)

Just Posted

‘Perfect storm’ causes influx of black widows in the Okanagan

The region’s only venomous spider has come out in full force this year

Stanley Cup within Vernon man’s reach

Dennis Holland has spent the past 18 years scouting for the Dallas Stars, seeking his first Cup ring

Spotlight on Syilx culture in new Vernon Winter Carnival project

Grant funds launch new project, provides skills training for Indigenous youth

Suspected human remains found in burned out vehicle on OKIB land

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hand over investigation to Major Crimes

Fuel Good Day pumps up North Okanagan-Shuswap charities

Cheques for more than $2,500 handed over to three organizations in annual fundraiser

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Attorney General defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kamloops RCMP search for armed robber of pizza restaurant

The incident unfolded on Monday evening at the Sahali Domino’s store

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Trial underway for Kamloops man charged with kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Most Read