The Revelstoke forestry crew and Penticton firefighters were hard at it Saturday, sandbagging around the marina on Okanagan Lake, where water continues to flood inland. The Penticton Yacht Club has closed the boat launch and gas bar for safety concerns. Photo courtesy Peter Weeber

Waiting out the floodwater

Over 75,000 sandbags provide line of defence in Penticton

The work has been done, and it’s now just a waiting game for either another windstorm like last week, or for water levels in creeks and streams to start dropping.

“Everything is armored up as best we can. It’s just wait and see now,” said Peter Weeber, Penticton’s chief administrative officer. “We’re up over 75,000 sandbags now out in the community.”

Work has also been completed on repairs to the breakwater protecting the Penticton Yacht Club Marina.

Weeber said they received an additional $30,000 from the province to complete the job. That brings the total to about $140,000 to repair the structure, which was breached in a couple of places by waves driven by the May 22 windstorm, which also caused structural damage to the Kiwanis Walking Pier.

“These repairs have repaired what was damaged and raised the level (of the breakwater) slightly so it will maintain protection of the facility once the water goes down. We’ll have had another extra foot on top of some areas, which is fine. We’re not going to remove that additional material,” said Weeber, noting that these are permanent repairs, not a temporary patch.

“From what I’ve seen they’ve done a good job placing rock, not just dumping rock. They’re actually placing it so that it is providing good protection,” said Weeber.

Getting all those sandbags and other protections in place was a team effort, according to Weeber, who complimented the efforts of community volunteers, firefighters, city workers and the Revelstoke forestry crew.

“We’ve been able to test all our emergency response plans. We found a lot of weaknesses but we’ve also found a lot of strengths,” said Weeber, who described the work of the forestry crew as being a military-grade operation.

“They are B.C.’s finest, there is no doubt about it. They’re an amazing resource,” said Weeber, noting how they supported the other workers and volunteers.

“It was really a community effort,” he said. “But the core of that engine was certainly the red shirts (forestry workers). They got it done and they continue to do it all over the region. Those folks, they don’t get a lot of press.”

The creeks are also still running high, but Weeber said the infrastructure is holding, without any major erosion issues in the creeks and spillways.

“They’ll recede sooner or later. But, just as the lake is at a high level so are the creeks and the channel is pumping up full capacity,” said Weeber, noting that one area of concern is the bridge next to the art gallery, where Penticton Creek is running level with the walkway.

“If we get any kind of major trees or anything coming down jamming into that bridge that hydraulic pressure will just flip that bridge right over, so we’ve been down there monitoring,” said Weeber.

Another area of concern, just outside Penticton, is the Redwing Resort, which Weeber said was the only residential area that experienced flooding so far.

“That’s really the only private property at risk,” said Weeber, adding that the city worked in co-operation with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen to help sandbag the low-lying neighbourhood.

“I’m glad that we were able to work together in other areas,” said Weeber.

“Sometimes it’s challenging between cities and regional districts but here we have a good relationship and it’s only gotten stronger from this event. We appreciate the work that they’ve done.”

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