‘I could hear the water roaring outside’: Williams Lake homes flood after snow, heavy rain

Roberts Drive resident Lisa Tarlings awoke at 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 to water roaring down the driveway. She and other residents began working to try and divert the water off the road into the ditch. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune.Roberts Drive resident Lisa Tarlings awoke at 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 to water roaring down the driveway. She and other residents began working to try and divert the water off the road into the ditch. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune.
Bann Road resident Bette McLennan, with help from her family, has been tackling her flooded basements since 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. when water began streaming down her property. The area continues to be hit with snow and rain. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune).Bann Road resident Bette McLennan, with help from her family, has been tackling her flooded basements since 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. when water began streaming down her property. The area continues to be hit with snow and rain. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune).
Water streams down a driveway on Roberts Road Thursday, Oct. 29.Water streams down a driveway on Roberts Road Thursday, Oct. 29.
This is the third time since March 2020 that Bette McLennan has had a creek running through her property on Bann Road in the Williams Lake area. She has lived there for 41 years and this is the worst it has ever been. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)This is the third time since March 2020 that Bette McLennan has had a creek running through her property on Bann Road in the Williams Lake area. She has lived there for 41 years and this is the worst it has ever been. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

It has been all hands on deck at the home of a Williams Lake area senior as her family helps her deal with flooding in her basement brought on by an early snowfall followed by heavy rain.

With two family members using shop vacs to suck up water in one of her basement rooms, Bette McLennan stood in another room and pointed to where water was pouring through the cement wall of her Bann Road home Thursday morning.

“At 10 p.m. I could hear the water roaring outside. I came downstairs and saw the water everywhere in the basement and I called my family and said, ‘help.’”

Outside there is a flow of water like a creek running down her yard and driveway.

McLennan said she’s so mad she cannot even sleep and that is because this is the third time she’s had a creek in her yard since March.

She has contacted many agencies to bring attention to ineffective culverts that are above her property on Gibbons Road on the southwest side of the city, outside of city limits.

“I’ve contacted the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Cariboo Regional District, Dawson Road Maintenance, Water Stewardship, realtors and Donna Barnett our MLA,” she said. “Everyone is passing the buck. This now is the worst it has ever been and I have lived here 41 years.”

Twenty-five years ago she said there was a ‘river’ coming down her yard and it backed up the septic system. At that time she had a trench put in with a pipe that managed the problem.

“I spoke with someone from the Ministry of Transportation this summer who told me there wasn’t the political or economic will to do anything about it.”

Below McLennan’s road, in the 800 block of Roberts Drive, other residents were also outside trying to divert water from their homes.

By 11 a.m. they had made a small gravel wall to try and send the water down into a ditch on the south side of the road rather than having it continue on across the road to Brent and Judy Judd’s place.

As Judy showed where the yard and garden areas were flooded and had a stream rushing through created by the flooding, she said they have lived there for 25 years.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” she added.

Read more: VIDEO: Aerial tour of flooding in Williams Lake area

Lisa Tarlings lives across the street from the Judds and said she started hearing water roaring at 6 a.m. this morning.

“I called the Cariboo Regional District and they said to call insurance,” Tarlings said.

Total precipitation for the month of October, 2020 so far is sitting at about three times higher what it typically is in the Williams Lake area, with 133.9 mm of precipitation.

Rain is still in the forecast for Williams Lake Thursday and Friday.

The Cariboo Regional District’s communications manager Chris Keam said they’ve received up to a dozen calls from residents regarding flooding the last two days.

“The soil is already saturated and any additional precipitation at this point is just sitting on top. We are definitely seeing some flood activity all over the region in various places and a bit of soil movement as well.”

Keam said the CRD wants to hear from residents who are impacted by calling the public information line at 1-866-759-4977. It is open 24 hours a day.

The CRD is getting together sand for the public to access for sand bagging properties.

“It is important for people to get outside, look at the their properties to see if they are at risk and take steps to get sand bags.”

The public is also urged to stay away from river banks and steep slopes.

“The ground is saturated and could be unstable,” Keam added.

The Ministry of Transportation responded Friday stating it is aware of the longstanding concern with the drainage in the area.

“Ministry staff have investigated this on multiple occasions to ensure it is not caused by our infrastructure,” a spokesperson noted. “The problem originates with an upstream landowner who has redirected the water out of its natural drainage path. The ministry has no role here. It remains a matter between two private third parties.”

Read more: Update: Spring flooding wreaking havoc on Cariboo Chilcotin roads

This story was updated with a response from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on Friday, Oct. 30.



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