Members of the Canim Lake Band are sandbagging to safeguard their community from rising water levels this spring, 2020. (Photo submitted)

Canim Lake Band impacted by rising flood waters

Leadership also challenged by COVID-19 pandemic

Two homes on the main reserve of Canim Lake Band east of 100 Mile House are at risk Thursday, April 30 as rising waters have breached Tsqescen Road.

Tsq’escen (Canim) Chief Helen Henderson said their emergency operations centre is monitoring all flood zones and are working on relocation plans for residents who are caught on the other side in the event the road is completely closed down. She said they also have check points on either side of the breach, and traffic is restricted to trucks only.

Sandbags have been placed between the water and the homes.

Read More: Evacuation alert lifted for 150 Mile House Borland Creek area

A few grave plots have been immersed in water as the water flows over the road past the community’s graveyard.

Henderson said they are also prepared to move the steers from their 4H barn that has been sandbagged if the water does not recede by Friday (May 1).

“The last flood happened in 1999,” she said. “Since then our road into the main and the bridge have been raised. Many members are sharing stories of how this event compares to the 1999 event.”

Bob’s Bridge in the community’s east subdivision where the band’s 4H sheep barn is located continues to be closely monitored for overflow.

Read More: New Indigenous reporter working at the Williams Lake Tribune

Henderson said safety monitors have been put in place to ensure the safety of the one tenant who lives past the flood area. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, she added, has been called to mitigate further issues as water flows in via a culvert on the highway.

Access to Indian Reserve No. 4 at Lac la Hache has been compromised due to flooding and is restricted to 4×4 access only.

“We have one Elder that lives there and we are closely monitoring and providing assistance,” Henderson said.

The road to Indian Reserve No. 3 has been fixed after flooding reduced access to 4 x 4 only.

The water level of Chris Lake Dam is being closely monitored by the EOC logistics team. Three homes and one community building would be impacted should a breach occur.

Henderson said the community activated their Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) in March in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have since formed the EOC team.

“What is unique about this team is we have two commanders: Tamara Isaac-Community Health Nurse to lead us through our COVID19 response and Don Dixon, our Natural Resource Manager to lead us through natural disasters like flooding and fires,” Henderson said. “We have had no confirmed cases (of novel coronavirus) in our community. We have closed our administration office and are down to essential services only: Health, Income Assistance, Education and Operations and Maintenance.”

Henderson said their EOC team come in daily to deal with the on-going tasks tied to COVID19.

“Our main priorities remain: stopping the spread of COVID-19, providing essential services to all our members, food insecurity and safeguarding our community.”

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