The cavalry has come to join the fight against flooding in the South Okanagan.
Penticton Fire Department deputy chief Chris Forster said B.C. Wildfire Service crews joined the flood mitigation efforts over the weekend, as the water continues to rise in the South Okanagan.
For the most part, that effort has been with filling sandbags, as Penticton Fire has managed to build up a stockpile of about 12,000 sandbags at Station 202.
“They came in and helped us on the weekend, there, put together a lot of those sandbags,” he said. “Pretty much most of those were done over the weekend. We’d had about 2,000 prior to the weekend, and then we did about 10,000 on the weekend. So we can fill them pretty quick if need be.”
That stockpile is largely in preparation for the city of Penticton, to protect local infrastructure and residents, where Forster said the efforts during last year’s flooding were more reactive.
But the sandbags are available to anybody in need — Forster pointed to Willowbrook, where the sandbagging efforts were compromised over the weekend, and the community’s fire hall was “imminently” under threat of flooding.
|Click on the picture for an interactive map with all of the places where sand (orange) or sandbags (purple) have been dropped off in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen this spring.
Image courtesy Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen
The 12,000 sandbags Penticton Fire has accumulated is just a drop in the bucket — or a grain in the sandbag — as the RDOS reports having delivered 806 tonnes of sand and 115,200 sandbags, including in municipalities, this year so far.
And in the city of Penticton alone, last year, there were over 200,000 sandbags laid.
While Penticton Fire is accumulating sandbags, Cameron Baughen with RDOS emergency operations said the regional district is dropping off sand and sandbags where they are needed.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has been getting sandbagging supplies from the provincial government and leaving sand, bags and shovels in a number of regions affected by flooding.
That includes the Willowbrook community west of Oliver, the Sportsmens Bowl Road area just north of Oliver and the Green Lake area just west of Okanagan Falls, where flooding has so far hit hardest.
“When it’s identified through our emergency operations centre, we then provide the sand and sandbags directly to that community,” Baughen said.
“More rural areas might want to get those, then contact us and we can look and see. If there’s no immediate concern there, if they just want it for no reason that we can identify, it may not be something that we do. But once there’s an identifiable risk, and that might just be the culverts or something that’s pretty minor, we can then provide that sand.”
More information about flood mitigation and an interactive map of all of the sandbagging sites can be found on the RDOS website.