Okanagan residents eye water levels in wake of evacuation

Residents in some communities in B.C.'s Okanagan region will be watching water levels this weekend as the flood risk continues.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued an evacuation order Friday night for homes west of Chute Lake, north of Penticton.

The order was issued after water started flowing over the top of a dam above Chute Lake. Engineers worry a further breach of the dam could result in massive flooding.

"A significant amount of water is being held back by a forestry road, and the integrity of the forestry road is starting to deteriorate," said Dale Kronebusahk, the emergency co-ordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

"In order to fix it, they 're going to have to maybe perhaps put a backhoe in there and it's like pickup sticks, where you pull one out then the whole thing collapse. So in order for that to happen we wanted to make sure everybody was safe beneath it. Otherwise you end up with a large volume of water and debris coming down."

'Hoping the worst is over'

Kronebusahk said the evacuation order will remain in place until further notice.

"I'm hoping the worst is over but you know, anything can happen," he said.

"We're experiencing some warm temperatures and some sunny skies here today and that would increase the snow melt, which is going to increase running water into the lake and that's going to keep the lake coming up.... We just are hoping for some cooler temperatures."

The district also has an evacuation alert for Tulameen, a seasonal recreational community that has about 176 permanent residents but balloons to about 2,000 in the summer.

The region has seen flood warnings and alerts in recent days amid heavy rains and record snowpacks.

Highway 16 delays

Meanwhile, the weather is also wreaking havoc on Highway 16 near Prince George.

The highway is closed in both directions east of Topley because of a sink hole. A detour is in effect for light traffic, and officials warn delays of up to half an hour are expected.

Crews are working on installing a temporary bridge, and officials estimate the highway could be reopened by Sunday afternoon.

And a washout about 85 kilometres east of Prince George has the highway reduced to single lane alternating traffic. Travellers are warned to expect delays of up to 20 minutes.

With files from The Canadian Press

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