Wasa situation ‘hopeful’ going into weekend

Sandbaggers remain on scene, but the lake is rising much slower now, according to the regional district

  • Jun. 28, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Carolyn Grant

Wasa Lake rose only one inch overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, good news for residents and RDEK staff dealing with the flood.

That means it’s rising but rising more slowly, giving hope that things just might be getting better, says the RDEK’s Loree Duczek.

“We believe the lake may be nearing peak,” she said Thursday. “We are very, very hopeful that things may get better over the weekend.”

If that is the case it will be very good news, not just for Wasa residents, but for RDEK staff dealing with a flood crisis that has stretched from one end of the regional district to the other.

Duczek said that they have received some additional staff from municipalities.

“We are very grateful to have secured additional help,” she said. “The City of Cranbrook has  sent people for the weekend and the District of Invermere gave us some staff as well.

“This has been an unprecedented response in terms of staff.”

Duczek says RDEK management is very aware of the potential for staff burnout and is trying to make sure they shift out and get some rest.

“We are working very very hard to maintain good staffing levels,” she said, adding that the situation is nowhere near over.

“Wasa is still in the active response phase, though we hope things are stabilizing. And there is still a lot of support necessary after flooding. When things die down, people still need support. You have to make sure they have all the information they need about safe drinking water, clean-up kits, eligibility for relief. And they need emotional support too.”

For example, RDEK staff in the Hosmer area were at the community hall Thursday night at an open house that was put together to help people affected by the Elk Valley floods.  A team was there to talk to them and provide emotional support.

Back in Wasa, the RDEK has requested that people keep their boats off the lake this long weekend.

“The water is literally lapping at the door of some homes and cabins. In other areas, residents have spent hours and hours sandbagging to protect their homes and our concern is that the wake and rough waters caused by boats could not only increase water in the affected homes, but knock down the sandbags that have been so carefully placed. BC Parks has closed the boat launches at the lake and we are urging property owners and visitors to leave their boats parked this weekend.”