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Residents in Shuswap brace for high temperatures as they protect homes from flooding

Silver Creek landowners have bolstered properties in order to prevent repeat of 2017 and 2018

Three times in seven years is more than a little stressful.

Maria Otting and her family’s home in the 500 block of Salmon River Road flooded in early May 2017 and again at the same time in 2018, despite much sand bagging and pumping of water. They were left with a foot of water and sewage in their basement, requiring a rebuild of the whole first floor of their home – a six-month undertaking.

Alice and Gary Hucul next door underwent a similar experience.

Otting said the high water this year seemed to have peaked last Saturday, May 7, and a berm they put up in 2018 along their fence line is holding.

They’ve also been pumping water continuously, using a four-inch hose to pump it back into the river.

Groundwater is really high this year, she said.

Otting pointed out their septic tanks will fill up with water, so they’ve been using another pump to try to keep water away from the house. They’ve also got a porta-potty, are taking very short showers and are not doing laundry in order to lower volume in the system.

With hot temperatures forecast for the weekend and still four or five feet of snow in the mountains, “we’re not out of the woods; we’ll still have a couple of weeks of really high water. It’s really stressful.”

AIM Roads clears the path below Haines Road bridge in Silver Creek on the weekend of May 6 to try to stop flooding. (Photo contributed)
AIM Roads clears the path below Haines Road bridge in Silver Creek on the weekend of May 6 to try to stop flooding. (Photo contributed)

AIM Roads is out almost every day, she said, pulling out logs, keeping bridges clear so the river doesn’t jam up and flood. The water is so high all of the older bridges are being patrolled because it is hitting the bottoms of most of them.

AIM Roads asks that anyone who spots water running across any roadway to call their 24/7 line at 1-866-222-4204. A list of roads they’ve been monitoring is included in the attached Facebook post.

Otting has noticed sediment in the Salmon River has been building up this year, so it’s taking less water to flood.

“That’s the problem for everyone who lives along the river.”

The land where she planted her big market garden last year so she could open it to the community each weekend from June to October is still underwater, so she expects it might not be dry enough to plant until mid-June.

She said she expects a lot of people are in the same situation. So far, she hasn’t heard of anyone in Silver Creek whose house has flooded.

Asked about her view on climate change, she said she’s been an environmentalist all her life, always thinking of effects on the planet, but there’s a limit to what an individual can do.

Otting noted that the river makes its own course and changes every year, so she and her neighbours are at the mercy of the weather. She said government policies to protect the river and fish mean the river can’t be touched.

Otting emphasizes she is really questioning what to do, as the flooding situation, especially three times in seven years, is so stressful.

“We built up the driveway about three feet… We feel like honestly we’ve done everything we can do.”

Read more: Flood waters causing destruction in Silver Creek

Read more: ‘Absolutely great news’: Salmon Arm councillors thrilled with floodplain mapping plan

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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