Keremeos prepares for the worst, hopes for the best

Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer talks about what happens if there is an evacuation order

Be prepared is the message Keremeos Manfred Bauer hopes residents hear.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for the worst, and if it doesn’t happen that’s wonderful,” he said.

On Sunday evening an evacuation alert for around 900 properties in the Lower Similkameen including Keremeos, Cawston area and properties west of the village in low lying areas.

Some residents who have health and mobility issues have chosen to self evacuate. Those residents should contact the Emergency Social Services office at 250-328-2702 located in Penticton.

At this point there is no designated spot in Keremeos for evacuees if an evacuation order is put forth.

Bauer explained those decisions are made when the order is made.

“Until there is an actual order we don’t know the details. It comes with the order. There’s too many variables to know exactly what would be needed,” he said.

Related: Evacuation alert expanding in Similkameen

Bauer said the alert is precautionary and meant to give residents time to prepare by getting their medications, packing a bag, finding a place for their animals, or arranging other accommodation.

“Basically all the areas that have been flooded before (last week) could be flooded again. It’s all about assuming the worst so residents can be prepared,” he said.

Bauer said the forecast is changing day by day and with it so does the expected intensity of the Similkameen River.

At this point cooler temperatures are expected later in the week and that might change things, melt high elevation snow slower, meaning the height and speed the river flows might not be as intense but might run high for longer.

He noted if there was rain that would change things again. Rain is a possibility for Thursday and Friday.

“There’s a lot of factors in all this. No one knows for sure what is going to happen. Like I’ve said we just want to prepared for the worst,” he said.

Related: Prepare now for Highway 3 to close when river rises

The worst for Keremeos at this point would be if dikes along the Similkameen River let go upstream from the village. Helicopters have been flying the river looking for weak spots in recent days.

A weak point was found in Cawston off VLA road. Crews are working to repair the dike.

The Keremeos dike, which the village is responsible for, undergoes regular assessment and repair when needed and was in excellent condition going into this year’s freshet.

Bauer said there are some orphan and private dikes on the south of the river in and upstream from the village.

He said at this point no repairs could be done to dikes as the water is moving too fast but he said he would continue to lobby the provincial government to sit down and come up with a plan to maintain the dikes that are out there.

“We’ve been pushing for this for at least the last five years. When this is over, I hope that the provincial government will sit down and talk about what can be done,” he said.

Related: Okanagan-Shuswap flood watch to intensify over next week

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