River levels still to rise; city copes with flood fall-out

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
July 20th, 2012

The flooding fun’s not finished yet for the City of Castlegar and surrounding communities, as the river level is set to rise and as much as 30 mm more rain is forecast for tomorrow (Friday).

Officials are going door-to-door in Genelle at the Whispering Pines Trailer Park to ask residents to move vehicles and such to higher ground, but The Source has not been told of any evacuation order at this point. The river has, however, breached BC Hydro’s berm road and covered large portions of riverside roadways.

Meanwhile, in Robson, residents downstream of the dam are already facing flood conditions that are sure to get worse as BC Hydro is forced to release water to address already-maxed out reservoirs upstream, with an anticipated one foot river rise by Friday and two feet by Sunday.

In Castlegar proper, city director of Public Works Chris Barlow says he was out at the city sewage lagoons today and the water is very close to the chlorine contact chamber, while they’re keeping a weather eye on the clay-lined dykes for erosion and seepage as the infrastructure’s resilience is tested to the limit.

“We’re concerned about the water increases, for sure,” he said. “But at this point, the infrastructure has shown no indication of degradation. We’ll continue to monitor it very closely.”

He said there have been some settling issues near the First Avenue sewage lift station, where they’re concerned about “maintaining the integrity and stability” of existing equipment, but city crews are out right now, shoring things up in preparation for what may be another deluge tomorrow.

He underscored, as well, the dramatic danger inherent in visiting Millennuim and Zuckerberg Island parks, where water is covering even lookout points – the danger is so great, he said, that a security guard has been posted at the Millennium parking lot to encourage people to read the signs prohibiting entry.

“Any one of those pathways could give way at any time, given the soil saturation, and the pathway would just disappear beneath your feet,” he said, adding there’s no way to assess what hidden damage and dangers lie under that water, posing serious dangers to people treating it like a wading pool. “It’s best if people just stay away.”

City crews are working at this moment to restore major storm systems that were plugged by recent flooding, and shoring up to ensure road drainage doesn’t get into failed areas where mudslides occurred during Wednesday’s storm.

Residents can pick up sandbags at Public Works near Trowelex (250-365-5979).

Meanwhile, Fire Chief Gerry Rempel said Tuesday’s storm resulted in 31 calls over the space of just a few hours – two medical calls; I cardiac arrest; nine mudslides; 11 false alarms; six flooding calls; one wall collapse (a Blueberry basement, no one injured); I tree on rail tracks. Fire crews also, along with three communtiy volunteers, helped fill sandbags in anticipation of more rain.

“We even had a mild electrocution – a fellow was leaning on a fence,” Rempel said. “Lightning hit the fence or the ground nearby – but the fellow is fine now.”

Rempel, also the airport manager, said the airport terminal was flooded, while lightning caused electrical damage to airport fire alarm system, security system, runway end strobe lights, internet and communications systems.

Rempel said, however, that this did not slow nor stop a single flight, as crews repaired damage or found other options to see safe landings and take-offs Wednesday.

Stay tuned to The Source for further updates.

Categories: General