When Kris Reeb woke up Saturday morning, it was such a beautiful day, he decided to take a photo of his family’s home.
That was at 8:20 a.m. Not long afterward, the admiration came to an abrupt stop. The berm he’d built around the yard and house to prevent flooding broke. By 9:30 a.m., water was already up to the bumpers of his 3/4-ton Dodge pickup truck.
“The creek bends around our property. Before the bend it came up over the bank, flooded the fields and made its way over to the house.”
Reeb, his spouse Laise and their three young children have lived at 3153 Johnson Rd. for less than a year. Theirs is the lowest of four houses in the area.
Reeb says they weren’t told the flooding can get this bad.
“We were told every so often it floods, but it doesn’t usually get by the driveway.”
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It wasn’t until they’d lived in the house for three months that they learned that it had flooded badly last year and the year before, he says. So he put in a preemptive plan to build a berm and put in a culvert. However, the water turned out to be more powerful than that berm or the vertical culvert with a pump he’d installed.
“It didn’t hold and a lot of the reason was the gravel we got had a lot of loose dirt mixed in it. If it had settled for a couple of years or we got an excavator to pack it down, it might have been OK.”
Instead, the family started scrambling to gather up what they could and get their young children out of the house. Now they’re in Kamloops, staying for the time being with friends. They’ve received help from the Red Cross there.
To make matters worse, “we’re not allowed back in the house as the septic system has flooded.”
Reeb is grateful to his neighbours and to the schools where his two oldest attend. “That’s the good part of this, to know people have got your back.”
He also says his family has no plans to move. “It’s one of those things that happens, we have to deal with it, especially when you’re living in a rural community and we have this beautiful creek running through our yard. Sometimes nature happens.”
At 587 Salmon River Road, a little to the south, Maria Otting says she is feeling better than last year, when her and spouse Thomas Koppel’s home flooded. They’ve done a lot of work with a berm as well as a four-inch pump to take water out of their field and back into the river.
“I feel like we’re more prepared this year. The terrific stress of last year sucked five years out of my life.”
However, she doesn’t rule out things getting worse.
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It’s a similar story for Florence Seidel and George Swartz in the 1600 block of Salmon River Road. They lost their driveway when the creek that flows down behind them was diverted by workers into the ditch running in front of their place, instead of going under Salmon River Road as it once did. She doesn’t like the plan.
Seidel says they were ordered to pay for their own culvert but, after a neighbour took it to an ombudsman, they were finally reimbursed. As for this year, she doesn’t know what’s going to happen, other than that the water and turbulence in the ditch is high.
“Time will tell.”
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Tom Hansen, emergency program coordinator with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, says he’s fielding a lot of calls and encouraging people to have their properties as prepared as possible.
“There’s no way of telling how much rain there’ll be in the next month. Right now, even with heavy snow loads, we’re seeing high stream flows.”
He says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has reported to him that the Salmon River Bridge is open and under no immediate threat.
At the provincial River Forecast Centre, David Campbell reports that the Southern Interior is under flood watch. Warm weather combined with rain on Wednesday, then more warm temperatures through the weekend could mean a rapid melt.
“So it could be another challenging week in terms of flows across the Interior.”