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'Never had a flood like this,' says mayor of flooded B.C. town

Princeton residents were among several communities across B.C. forced to evacuate do to flooding Sunday and Monday
Princeton flooding
The B.C. towns of Princeton faced significant flooding Monday as municipalities across the province faced devastating flooding.

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne had emotion in his voice Monday morning when he described the scene in his town.

“I’ve been here all my life. We've never had a flood like this yet. I talked to a gentleman today, been here 65 years, he said he's never seen one like this,” Coyne said.

The town's works yard is flooded, and a boil water notice is in place. A total of 295 properties have been evacuated.

“It's still raining so the water has started slowly coming back up. We just had a crew monitoring and they just came back and told us that it's slowly starting to rise. It's raining pretty good here again,” Coyne said.

A dike has breached in part of the town that is a number one priority to fix at this time.

But there is some good news too. Coyne said they have just finished an assessment of the town wells, and they are all protected at this point.

“Right now it's just trying to slow the water down and keep it keep it from keeping coming into town,” Coyne said.

“I want to thank the community for doing what they're doing. Our emergency responders and our public works for everything they're doing. It's a real team effort."

The Town of Princeton is dealing with historic floods after heavy rain began Sunday and continued through the night.

Reader-submitted photos show neighbourhoods partially underwater, and the river raging. Highway 5A at Princeton is closed, as is Highway 3.

Power was disrupted to the town early in the morning. The town's emergency management department advised residents around 2 a.m. to start storing water.

"Fill your bathtubs, jugs, containers, anything you can store water in," they wrote on their official Facebook page.

A boil water notice is in place for all water that will be used for drinking, making ice, cooking, washing food or brushing teeth. Use a hand sanitizer after washing hands.

Dozens of properties in low-lying areas are on evacuation alert or order. Evacuees can check in to the Emergency Support Services centre at 148 Old Hedley Road, known locally as the Riverside Centre. They can also be reached at 250-273-0143.

Evacuation alerts and orders for Princeton can be found here.

Residents are encouraged to sign up to Voyent Alert, which the town uses to send out such notices.

All schools in the district 58 which serves Princeton and Merritt are closed Monday.

Multiple properties in the nearby community of Tulameen are also under evacuation order. Those addresses can be found here. They are able to report to the same Emergency Support Services centre in Princeton.

FLOODING EXTENDS ACROSS OKANAGAN

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is still assessing damage and further threats as flooding continues in Similkameen communities.

Erick Thompson, information officer with the RDOS Emergency Operations Centre, said they don't have specifics on infrastructure damage at the moment, but the key message is public safety.

“Stay in place, shelter in place. It's important that people don't go down near the water, there are a lot of potential dangers that people might not see, one of them would be trees. With all of that water flowing, it can impact the bottom of the trees, that root system, that can impact other things,” Thompson said.

“There could be propane tanks in the area that they've stored. So there are a lot of potential hazards, it's important that people stay in place and stay away from the water's edge.”

The flooding situation is still dynamic and evolving, with more rain expected in the forecast. Thompson said anyone with immediate concerns about health and safety should call 911, or contact the RDOS for advice at 250-490-4225.

The RDOS has a helicopter heading up to look at the situation Monday. Thompson said he expects a better idea of what is happening on the ground at around 3 p.m.

In the meantime, he urges RDOS residents to register at ess.gov.bc.ca should they need to access emergency services.

Thompson did not have information available as of late Monday morning about communities other than Princeton and Tulameen that may be facing flood risk as well. That information will be part of the aerial assessment.

The Ashnola River through Keremeos is swelling, according to footage shared on Twitter.

The Penticton Emergency Support Services centre has activated to support flood evacuees. Call 1-833-498-3770 to register over the phone, or register in person at 2965 South Main Street in Penticton.

There is currently no risk of flooding in Penticton.