“Be calm, but be prepared,’ is the message the Mayor of Keremeos wants residents to hear.
Mayor Manfred Bauer spent Thursday morning in the regional district’s Emergency Operation Centre in Penticton hearing about flooding issues happening everywhere from Summerland, Osoyoos, Cawston and Tulameen and sharing what was happening in and around Keremeos.
“We’re urging people to stay calm and be informed. Get your information from a reputable source, our push notifications, media outlets, press releases from the RDOS. Don’t rely on Facebook,” he said.
Bauer was optimistic about the flooding situation in and around Keremeos. On Thursday afternoon the dike in Keremeos was holding well and water was still several feet down from the top.
Bauer thought water levels might have even dropped overnight, adding cooler temperatures were a plus, but rain a minus.
“I don’t want to diminish any kind of threat here. My assessment is very subjective. I have markers out there. I’ve talked to neighbours. It’s not scientific. All things have to be accounted for. I’m no expert but I do talk to them regularly,” he said.
The National Weather Service, which monitors flows in the Similkameen River at Knighthawk, WA, put the Similkameen River at 15.27-feet, factoring in flow rate, as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, which ranks it at moderate flooding. Major flooding doesn’t happen till 16.37-feet and the historical record is 18.8-feet.
Bauer said each day he visits areas of concern in the village, checks the dike, and checks in with residents and properties to the east and west.
“It doesn’t stop at our boundaries. We want to make sure everyone is managing the best they can and help is getting out there,” he said.
“We also want to know what’s happening outside the village boundary. It’s important. Basically I’m looking everywhere from Red Bridge to Kobau everyday so we have a handle on what’s going on and farther beyond that,” he said.
Many homes and businesses in the village are experiencing wet basements and crawlspaces as groundwater continues to rise.
Residents are reminded not to connect sub pump systems to the wastewater as it increases outflow at the wastewater treatment plant and could mean an increase in charges or even a fine for owners.
Bauer said if a State of Local Emergency is called for the area it is mainly to do with making sure the work that needs to be done can be done as soon as possible and without breaking the village’s bank.
“By declaring that (State of Local Emergency) we have access to provincial funds. When we have to do precautionary measures, like building berms, getting sandbags, helping people out of their driveways, we will be reimbursed,” he said.
Continue to check www.keremeosreview.com for updates on flooding in and around Keremeos and throughout the SImikameen and South Okanagan.