By early May, Twin Lakes resident Craig Hunter and his family had filled 2,500 sandbags to protect their property. Over $6.7 million has been spent on flood mitigation in the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen. File photo

Flooding costs continue to rise

Over $6.7 million has been spent on flood mitigation in the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen

As of day 77 (June 7) of this year’s flooding event in the Okanagan and Similkameen more than $6.7 million has been spent and the cost is expected to continue to climb.

Paul Edmonds, the emergency management program co-ordinator for the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen, said although water is receding there is still a risk. He explained the majority of the costs associated with flood mitigation will be covered by the province.

“So, the message at the moment to the public is still to be prepared, obviously we are receiving lots of calls from people who have removed sandbags to please come and remove our sandbags. We are still at risk of a rainfall event. It’s the possibility of rain, obviously, not today or the near future, but the next week or so, two weeks or three weeks,” he said in response to a question about removing sandbags.

Related: Okanagan-Similkameen freshet looms large: district

Once a state of local emergency is cancelled in areas, Edmonds said a designated place for sandbags to be dropped will be set up in each community. The RDOS has received approval from the province for funding to do the cleanup of sandbags and other debris at strategic community locations, not at every home.

Edmonds said communication will come out when ready.

As of Thursday, there were seven evacuation orders still active throughout the RDOS affecting 32 different properties including in Osoyoos and rural Oliver. About 157 properties continue to be on evacuation alert.

Edmonds noted extensive work had been done at Twin Lakes to save homes around the lake. The lake at last measure was 26 feet in height, about nine feet above seasonal normal.

Edmonds was not able to provide the cost of the project so far but said more work was expected. At least two pumps were brought and hundreds of tonnes of material as well as thousands of hours of contract work done by both the military and B.C. Wildfire Service.

He noted in his presentation that it’s unknown how much of the material used to raise the height of the roadway, which created a dike to hold back the water, will be left behind. As the dike was built as an emergency defence there were some construction issues that allowed water underneath, prompting the evacuation order on some homes around the lake.

The decision of how much material will stay will be made by the province’s Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“FLNROD is considering that they don’t want dikes at all in the area because of the potential of breaching,” he said.

Related: Twin Lakes residents brace for massive flooding

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