Otter Lake in Tulameen rose another three feet overnight, causing 74 out of 280 houses in the community to be flooded or surrounded by water.
An evacuation alert is still in effect, but only a handful of houses have been evacuated.
Tulameen residents say this is the worst flood since the early 1970s, Fire Chief Jody Woodford said.
The amount of flooding is noticeable since yesterday. The lake has completely covered the beach and is now inching its way along surrounding streets, overflowing into yards.
“There is a lot of snow melt and water building up, and there is no way of releasing it, so the lake is flooding,” Woodford said.
Some houses closest to the lake have been sandbagged, but most homeowners haven’t set up barriers.
“The ice melts won’t stop for while, and we hope it stops raining,” Woodford said.
An evacuation alert was given for Tulameen yesterday. Residents were told to be prepared to leave on short notice.
Most flooded houses are vacation properties, and some people have been back to pick up their belongings, Woodford said.
The evacuation alert is optional, so people are still allowed to stay in their houses, Woodford said.
Some residents sit on their front porches as their yards flood around them.
High Streamflow Advisory has been issued for all Similkameen River tributaries by the BC River Forecast Centre. River levels are expected to remain elevated, or continue to rise, through Friday due to heavy rainfall.
April 25, 2012
Otter Lake in Tulameen has flooded and an evacuation alert has been given for the entire community by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Residents may be required to evacuate due to rising ground water caused by this year’s spring thaw.
All residents should be prepared to leave on very short notice if the order is given. Plans should include the removal of valuables and important documents, the RDOS said.
So far, houses close to the lake have been partially flooded.
A registration centre is available in Princeton for those who are affected. Tulameen residents will be contacted locally if the situation changes.
“[The flooding] becomes a concern because of the wells and septic fields,” said Area H director Brad Hope.
“It’s important that people know to boil the water and know how to take precautions health wise.”
The fire chief and crew have been working around the clock, telling people they should leave if their houses are close to flooding, he said. Some people have moved to Princeton.
The river has risen this high before, but it’s difficult to tell when it’s going to start going down, said Hope, adding that the mountains surrounding Tulameen have quite a bit of snow on top.