Posted on 16 May 2012 by Keith Lacey
The Town of Osoyoos managed to escape the wrath of Mother Nature when she dropped almost 30 millimetres of rain in just over 24 hours almost three weeks ago, but several homeowners in the Regal Ridge subdivision on Anarchist Mountain have not been so lucky.
An evacuation alert was issued by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) last Thursday as officials provided notice to 11 homes on the Raven Hill Road/Nine Mile Place that they may be required to evacuate due to potential water and debris flow by a breached earthen dam upstream near their homes, said Dale Kronebusch, emergency services supervisor for the RDOS.
“All residents should be prepared to stay away from Nine Mile Creek and possibly leave their premises on very short notice if the order is given,’ said Kronebusch. “Plans should include the removal of valuables and important documents.”
As of Tuesday at noon, none of the affected 11 homeowners have been ordered to evacuate and none likely will. However, the alert will remain in notice for the next several days as there is still plenty of remediation work to be completed, said Kronebusch.
A total of five dams were built in the area and two were washed out following the heavy rains of April 25 and 26 and have been ordered decommissioned by the Ministry of Environment, he said.
“Two of the dams will have to be decommissioned by the property owner and it’s up to the ministry staff to ensure it’s done properly,” said Kronebush.
“The larger of the two is going to take a couple of weeks to finish.”
None of the affected 11 homes have suffered any water damage, but the amount of water that overflowed from the dams because of the excessive rain has the potential to still cause damage to their property and that’s why the alert was issued, said Kronebush.
“We don’t want somebody to be out gardening or walking down by the creek with their dog and then suddenly face the possibility of being hit by a large rush of water if one of the dams suddenly breaks,” he said.
The amount of water that fell in this area during the massive rainstorm was a “once in 50 years or once in 100 years weather event” and Osoyoos was lucky to escape without any significant damage as many areas across the South Okanagan were hit hard, with many roads washed out and severe flooding in the Tulameen area, said Environment Canada.
Officials from the RCMP, Osoyoos Volunteer Fire Department, Anarchist Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Transportation have all been on site since the alert was issued, he said.
When asked why the homeowners would build dams on or close to their private property, Kronebusch said. “I have no idea why they were built … I really don’t know why.”
The two affected dams are actually located on Kootenay Boundary property, but the water that has spilled has landed on land managed by the RDOS, said Kronebush.
“Because the actual dams are on Kootenay Boundary land I suspect they will be conducting an investigation into exactly what has happened,” said Kronebush.
This is the first time he can recall a flooding alert being issued in the Regal Ridge subdivision, which started being developed over a decade ago, said Kronebusch.