Flood mitigation has Twin Lakes residents optimistic

Major work has gone on in Twin Lakes over the last week

What a difference a few days make.

Last week when the Keremeos Review caught up with Twin Lakes resident Craig Hunter, things were looking pretty bleak.

He’d spent the last six weeks sandbagging to create a five-foot wall, which the lake was steadily creeping up. At that time the lake was expected to raise an additional six-feet at least before it hit it’s peak, well over the wall he’d created.

But on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 9, after tonnes of road material and thousands of sandbags were placed things were starting to look up.

“It’s amazing, amazing what they’ve done,” Hunter said while checking on the Twin Lakes well house, which serves his place, his eight neighbours and a strata at the base of the lake. “I almost feel guilty with the amount of work they’re doing but I’ll go with it anyway. Take it and run.”

Hunter thought at the end of last week he, and the other three neighbours that live in the most impacted area, would have to evacuate because the sewer lift station was under siege from the rising water levels.

Because the area is under a State of Local Emergency, provincial funds have been accessed to do flood mitigation work around the Twin Lakes area. B.C. Wildfire Service along with provincial staff have worked for the last several days to transform the area.

Related: Twin Lakes braces for massive flooding

As of Wednesday afternoon the roadway has been raised three-to-four-feet creating a retaining wall to hold back the rising lake.

Gabions, large four feet wire baskets filled with sand and rock, will be placed along the now heightened road and Hunter said an additional layer of sandbags is also expected to be placed.

Related: Highway 3 between Hedley, Keremeos closed

Other low lying structures on the other side of the lake have been sandbagged to protect them if water does rise that high.

Hunter said after seven weeks of working on flood relief this is the first time he is starting to feel optimistic his home won’t be heavily damaged.

At this point he only has a bit of water on his patio. His finished rec remains room dry.

“Building a five-foot sandbag wall and then hearing we have a six-foot flood level, it was like, ‘ah, crap,’’” he said, adding. “I think we should make it with the four-foot gabion bins. And, they worked last night till 9:30 p.m., till dark, and i think they are going to hammer at it tonight until they’re done, but they need to move on to other places that need help too, not just my place and the strata and the nine lots that we have to share.”

The Lower Nipit Irrigation District is pumping a minimal amount of water out of Twin Lakes each day but is limited at how much by the province as the water heads directly to Sportsmens Bowl, the Park Rill water system and Willowbrook which also under a State of Local Emergency and suffering severe flooding.

Related: Dozens of homes near Similkameen River on evac alert

Related: Two homes evacuated, 40 on alert, in Lower Similkameen

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