After a period of massive rainfall and mountain runoff that played havoc across British Columbia, the East Kootenay region is slowly recovering from its own array of damages.
In Invermere, Kinsmen Beach was the most easily recognizable area to suffer, as flooding from Lake Windermere nearly engulfed the entire parking lot. According to District of Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser, Kinsmen Beach is suffering from localized flooding, and while the new amenity building suffered no damage, the district is expecting erosion to occur behind the new foreshore restoration, although they are not sure by how much.
The district has had crews working since Tuesday June 26), at times well into the night, on flood preventative measures, and have a stock of sand and sandbags on hand and are monitoring the situation.
“I have seen Kinsmen Beach flooded like this back in 2002,” Prosser said via email. “2007 was close, but with the rainfall we are experiencing it is making it difficult as there is more snow melt to occur.”
The district is also reporting damages to municipal infrastructure, including road subsidence and infiltration, and increased flows into the sewer system. Along Westside Road near Castlerock Estates, water affected the structure of the retaining wall and caused it to collapse. Currently, the situation has been reviewed by the district’s geotechnical engineer, and immediate recommendations to protect persons and property were to be carried out on Friday (June 29). At that time, the district was waiting for a final report from their engineers prior to proceeding any further.
Prosser advises all residents to be vigilant and prepared in case of further rainfall. He urges property owners to watch their properties closely and be ready to react to any signs of water, and — if sandbags are required — to contact the public works office at 250-342-3215.
Some of the worst damage in the region was felt in Wasa, as Wasa Lake saw extremely high water levels beginning on Tuesday (June 26). As heavy rainfall battered the East Kootenay region, the lake was rising at a rate of one inch per hour.
Water levels rose another six inches on Thursday (June 28), prompting the RDEK to seek the public’s co-operation in keeping boats off the lake.
As of Friday (June 29), the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) had dropped off approximately 15,000 sand bags and 18 loads of sand to the Wasa Community Hall to assist with flood efforts. Several homes had experienced flooding, and Ministry of Forests crews were aiding in sandbagging efforts.
“The water is literally lapping at the door of some homes and cabins. In other areas, residents have spent hours and hours sandbagging to protect their homes and our concern is that the wake and rough waters caused by boats could not only increase water in the affected homes, but knock down the sandbags that have been so carefully placed,” explained RDEK information officer Loree Duczek in a June 29 release.
In Kootenay National Park, the highest water levels in recent memory led to the damage and near destruction of eight different bridges to varying degrees. Most notably, the Paint Pots bridge was practically destroyed by flood waters, and similar trail bridge damages forced closure of a number of trails, including Paint Pots, Stanley Glacier and Dog Lake. Parks Canada communication officer Omar McDadi, who has lived in the area for some eight or nine years, said he’s never seen water levels this high before, a comment many of his colleagues shared.
“People who have been here much longer than I have are saying they’ve never seen such high water levels and flooding events of this nature,” McDadi said. “Right now we’re in a recovery and assessment period, where we’re hoping to salvage as much of the bridges as we can, and then we’ll decide once we know the full extent of the damage, we’ll prioritize what’s going to be fixed in the immediate future.”
For further updates on water levels, visit www.bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca.