Nakusp’s Ken and Deb Booth narrowly survived a flash flood in February. Photo: Submitted

Nakusp’s Ken and Deb Booth narrowly survived a flash flood in February. Photo: Submitted

Nakusp woman recalls harrowing escape from flash flood

Deb Booth was with her husband when they were both nearly swept away

By John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

It’s been nearly a month, but Deb Booth still shudders when she recalls what happened to her on Valentine’s Day.

“I think it’s affected us, permanently,” she says. “Even talking about it, I get stressed out. And I’m not that kind of person. I’m pretty low-key.”

It all started when her husband Ken noticed how the February cold snap had completely frozen over Kuskanax Creek, a rare event. The creek runs along the border of their Nakusp property. Booth, a photographer, got excited.

“The colour was stunning … when you’re standing there, looking down through the trees, the colour just popped,” she recalled. “Ken said, ‘You have go down and take some pictures.’”

Taking advantage of the sunny day, the pair went down to the creek and began wandering, taking pictures and exploring the shoreline. It was a lot of fun, even when Booth momentarily got her boot stuck in between some of the rocks in the creek bed.

“My foot went through between these rocks,” she says. “The water was up over my ankles, and I thought, ‘great, now I’m going to have a wet foot.’

“I managed to wiggle my boot out, and went up the bank to warm my foot by the fire Ken had built. Otherwise I would have been down there for quite a while longer to take more photos.”

The Booths have lived on the property for decades, and thought they knew the Kuskanax well. She says she had never experienced what happened next.

“There was no noise. It was silence. There was no wind,” she recalled. “So when we began hearing this sound, it got our attention.”

The sound kept growing.

“We turned around just in time, to see a 12-foot wall of ice and water that was bright turquoise coming towards us,” she says. “It takes a second for your brain to register what is going on. Then it started slamming into the bank and hunks of ice were coming up over, and Ken yelled ‘Run!’”

Her husband held on to a nearby tree, while Deb ran as far from the bank as she could.

“I had to go down the bank and up again, and I thought, ‘I’m not going to make it.’”

Deb Booth captured these pictures of Kuskanax Creek, which experienced a flash flood on Feb. 14. Photos: Deb Booth

Deb Booth captured these pictures of Kuskanax Creek, which experienced a flash flood on Feb. 14. Photos: Deb Booth

The rising water came within six metres of her, she says, but it was over in a matter of seconds. The ice and water receded almost as quickly as it began, leaving them unscathed. After recovering their composure, the couple went back down to the creekside to take pictures of the aftermath – and Booth saw how close she had come to disaster.

“I was pretty much right out in the middle of the river when I got stuck, and never thought twice about it,” she says. “Ken would have come down to try to help free me. We would never have made it out of the way in time, it happened so fast.”

Booth even knows how close she came to disaster. Her digital camera recorded 13 minutes between the last picture she took before getting stuck in the creek, and the next picture she took as the water receded.

The next day her husband went down to the creek again, and saw evidence of the power of the flash flood.

“There were chunks of ice where we had been standing – they were eight inches thick and five feet across,” she says. “They would have easily swept us away.”

River experts approached by the Valley Voice couldn’t explain what happened to the Booths. They say a small ice jam or beaver dam upstream from their location might have broken, sending the cascade of water toward the couple. They say it’s an unusual event that more commonly happens during freshet, and not mid-winter.

Booth posted her experience to a local Facebook group, saying she hopes people will take what happened to her as a warning, and stay aware when they’re walking in and around mountain streams.

“My message is use caution,” she says. “I wouldn’t go near a frozen river again, unless it’s really, really tiny and you have a chance to escape.”

And the couple even managed to find a bit of humour in the experience.

“Ken told me he used to make my heart race on Valentine’s Day, but in a different way,” she laughs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Revelstoke Women's Shelter Society has released an educational video about unhealthy relationships. (Contributed)
Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society educates on healthy relationships with new video

April 11-17 is Prevention of Violence Against Women Week

A 46-year-old man from Armstrong died in Revelstoke hospital after being injured in the Lumby area. (File photo)
Armstrong snowmobiler dies in Revelstoke hospital

46-year-old man injured in Tsuius Mountain area of Monashees around Lumby area

Guy Barber in front of his jewellery store at 208 Mackenzie Avenue, circa 1915. (Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 272)
Glimspes of Revelstoke’s past for April 8

Local history as recorded by the newspaper of the time

Downtown Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
LETTER: Finding Common Ground Through COVID-19

‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’

Alchemy Studio received a ticked from the RCMP on Thursday, April 8, for staying open despite provincial restrictions ordering yoga studios be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Contributed)
Revelstoke yoga class fined for defying COVID-19 orders

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on April 8

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

The former Summerland Asset Development Initiative building on Prairie Valley Road in Summerland was suggested as the site for a temporary transitional housing facility for the community. However, Summerland council has rejected this proposal. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council rejects transitional housing facility

Concerns raised about short timeline and condition of municipally-owned building

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

Most Read