The City of Kamloops is preparing for the possibility of a one-in-20-year flood in the North and South Thompson rivers, and warning residents who live along the rivers that water could rise enough to reach homes.
The city expects the water to peak mid-June, as a high snowpack melts.
It’s closed the pier in Riverside Park, as well as a section of the trail that runs through the park and the beach and is installing flood mitigation barriers.
Starting Monday, contractors were in the park installing Hesco flood barriers: one-metre-by-one-metre burlap and mesh bags filled with sand. This is to protect the sewer system that runs throughout the park.
“With these barriers going in, we’re confident that we’ll be able to keep our critical infrastructure protected,” City of Kamloops utility services manager Greg Wightman told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.
He expects the installation of the barriers to be complete by May 19.
Though boat launches are open at this time, if the river gets too high, the city says it will close them. In a news release, it warned the passage of boats under the South Thompson railway bridge may not be possible as waters continue to rise.
Flood mitigation measures will be in place until the end of June.
B.C.’s river forecast centre have issued a high streamflow advisory for tributaries of the North Thompson River near Clearwater and Barriere, which is 62 kilometres north of Kamloops.
Wightman said that while river levels are lower than usual for mid-May due to a cool spring, with a swift melt late in the season, the peak is expected mid-June.
“It’s definitely gonna be high waters,” Wightman said.
The description “one-in-20-year flood” is not, strictly speaking, a forecast of how often a flood of that size happens, but rather a way of expressing the likelihood of flooding at that level in any one year — in this case, five per cent.
The city is encouraging residents who live along the river to be prepared by using sandbags to protect structures.
“It just comes down to protecting your home and your property as best you can,” he said.