Lumby residents in floodplain areas are on evacuation alert. (2017 Morning Star file photo)

Lumby residents in floodplain areas are on evacuation alert. (2017 Morning Star file photo)

Flood potential puts Okanagan community on evacuation alert

Lumby frustrated that protective measures can’t remain in place despite annual flooding

Flood concerns are rising for some North Okanagan residents.

The Village of Lumby handed out evacuation alerts to those in the flood plain area Monday, May 4.

“We’re getting close and we know there’s still lots of snow up top,” said Mayor Kevin Acton, also concerned about high temperatures forecast for the weekend.

Sandbags have been put out and the village is monitoring the situation, while residents are urged to be ready in the event of an evacuation order and to protect their property.

Acton doesn’t anticipate any potential flooding to be as bad as 2017 and 2018, when record levels were reached.

But he is also disappointed to see that much of the work done to protect properties during those historic floods has since been removed.

“We had done a lot of work and we were hoping we were able to keep it,” said Acton.

But whatever goes in is considered temporary and needs to be removed within a certain time period, through Emergency Management British Columbia.

“The DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) came out and said, ‘you are in violation and have done damage to the creek and you need to take it out,’” said Acton, of massive berms that were put in place to retain high water and in turn saved more than $20 million worth of infrastructure each year.

Despite attempts to convince DFO to allow the berms to remain in place, there were apparent damages to salmon habitat.

Meanwhile a permanent solution seems impossible to the high water problems that plague Lumby every year.

“It’s frustrating,” said Acton. “We’ve been forced to remove millions of dollars worth of work.”

There are gabion dikes – metal baskets filled with rock or sand – being put in place, but will again be taken out once the flood risk eases.

“I don’t understand why we don’t just put it in and leave it,” said Acton.


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