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Kelowna latest to declare local state of emergency due to possible flooding

Residents and workers for the City of Fernie, B.C., fill sandbags in preparation for flooding along the Elk River, where heavy rain and spring snow melt threaten to push the river over its banks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-City of Fernie **MANDATORY CREDIT**

VANCOUVER — The City of Kelowna is the latest to declare a local state of emergency in response to isolated flooding that threatens property in some areas due to higher-than-expected rainfall that has swelled rivers across many parts of British Columbia.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says rain in the mountains and the valley has led to rising water levels in creeks and streams and some roads have been closed while others are open only to local traffic in Mission Creek, Scotty Creek and the upper reaches of Mill Creek.

It says staff at the centre are working with other response agencies to minimize the impact while city crews are inspecting bridges and monitoring the water levels.

Property owners in flood-prone and low-lying areas are being encouraged to have a plan in case of flooding and pick up sand and sandbags that are available nearby.

The District of Sparwood in the southeast corner of B.C. also declared a state of emergency and posted evacuation alerts for two mobile home parks and several properties along the Elk River after nearly 52 millimetres of rain deluged the community.

Flood warnings have been issued by the River Forecast Centre for the Elk River and the Liard River in northeastern B.C., while flood watches are in effect for many waterways from near Quesnel in the central part of the province, south to the United States border.

Environment Canada lifted all rainfall warnings and special weather statements Tuesday across B.C., after warning up to 80 millimetres could fall in some locations, in the southeast. 

The City of Fernie, which also borders the Elk River, was building up dikes and sandbagging along the river on Tuesday, but it says in a statement that despite sustained rainfall, river levels are at what would be normal for a spring freshet. 

Other B.C. areas under evacuation alert include the community of Six Mile, north of Nelson, properties along the Tulameen River, several homes near the Fraser River in Kent, and 27 units in a Sicamous mobile home park that is at the base of a slope considered extremely likely to slide sometime in the next two years.

Flood watches also cover many rivers in the East Kootenay, Cariboo Mountains and their tributaries, the North Thompson River, the Shuswap Region and the Upper Columbia. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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