TOTA News Release | TOTA Update to High Water and State of Emergency in Regional Communities

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

To all industry stakeholders and DMO’s,

Warm temperatures and a higher than usual snowpack have contributed to rising water and flooding through some parts of the Thompson Okanagan Region. With current temperatures set to continue to remain high a second surge of water from melting snow is due this week, and with it the anticipation of further flooding.

Hardest hit has been our Boundary Country, where evacuation orders and alerts were issued for over 3000 people. The Canadian Red Cross is currently supporting local authorities to meet the urgent needs of flood-impacted residents in the Boundary Region.  Incredible community involvement and tireless help from amazing volunteers have meant over 220,000 sandbags have been distributed. The Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary would like to remind everyone that it is important to exercise caution at all times. “It is extremely important to be safe when near floodwater. River levels can rise quickly and currents can be unpredictable. The ground can be soft and unstable causing extremely poor footing. Exercise extreme caution.”

The contact for the Emergency Operations Centre in 1-888-747-9119

The Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers have been collecting water from Manning Park and the Coquihalla Highway, forcing highway closures and evacuations throughout the Valley. Its high flow has pushed water back into Osoyoos Lake, causing localized flooding in the Town of Osoyoos. The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen have distributed 1 million sandbags, whilst BC Wildfire crews have been working tirelessly to protect critical infrastructure by building sandbag walls and tiger dams.  In addition to current evacuation orders and alerts, Hedley and Similkameen River area residents are advised to prepare for Evacuation Orders.

While the Town of Osoyoos is also experiencing flooding, the vast majority of the area remains unaffected and most businesses are open and looking forward to a busy May long weekend, the traditional start to the season. Visitors are encouraged to continue travel plans and enjoy limited lake related activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking or one of the many other activities including winery touring, golf, enjoying the unique retail shops and dining experiences.

It is imperative that the public remains out of all evacuated areas for both their own safety and to ensure all resources are going directly to critical flood efforts.

The following community meetings will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018:

  • Rock Creek Fairgrounds 4pm – 6pm
  • Osoyoos Sonora Centre 6.30pm
  • Grand Forks Secondary School 7pm – 9pm

Evacuation alerts, orders, trail and park closures, and flood warnings remain in place for properties in the RDCO, RDNO, CSRD, and TNRD. Detailed information and resources can be found on their individual websites.

As of Tuesday morning, Highway Access into the region is as follows:

  • Highway 1 OPEN both directions *Travel advisory in effect from Golden to Revelstoke
  • Highway 3 OPEN both directions *Subject to change due to ongoing flood conditions | road obstruction 1km east of Grand Forks, lane closure in effect, reduce speed
  • Highway 33 OPEN both directions *Closed 8km east of Kelowna until 5:30pm on Tuesday May 15, detour available | washout 30km north of Westbridge, lane closure in effect
  • Highway 6 OPEN *Washout 33km west of Needles Ferry Dock – single lane alternating traffic
  • Highway 5 OPEN
  • Highway 97 OPEN
  • Highway 97C OPEN

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association would like to extend our support to the communities and industry in this time of need. Please let us know how you are doing, what you need, and how we can help. Safety for both our industry and for travellers is of utmost priority, and we invite you to send any information, photos, or updates directly to Ellen Walker-Matthews at industry@totabc.com.

Our consumer marketing efforts will continue to promote the region, as we understand how crucial business is to our industry and the impact natural disasters such as these can have.

As I mentioned in my Manic Monday, clear key messaging is important – stick to the facts and stay safe.

In times like these, it is best to stay informed as possible. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, but for real-time information, these resources are readily available to you:

Stay safe everyone,

Sincerely,

Glenn Mandziuk, BA, MEDes., MCIP
President & Chief Executive Officer
Thompson Okanagan Tourism

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