July 11, 2012
Structures inspected after flooding
The Shuswap Emergency Program is overseeing a rapid damage assessment of homes in Sicamous, B.C. that have been affected by flooding to determine whether they are unsafe for occupancy.
“What we are doing is an assessment of these homes for public safety, which will identify issues that could be a problem for tenants,” said Rick Ryan-Lewis, damage assessment co-ordinator with the Shuswap Emergency Program.
“We are using a program that is available from B.C. Housing, which is called rapid damage assessment.”
The 2 Mile and Swansea Point areas of Sicamous were inundated by flash-flooding on June 23.
A torrent of debris was unleashed, which caused extensive damage to homes.
“The rapid damage assessment crews visited approximately 1,200 homes in the areas impacted by the high lake levels and the creek flooding,” said Ryan-Lewis.
“The crews posted approximately 130 safety notices. During the flooding there were 460 registered evacuees, from the Sicamous, 2 Mile and Swansea Point areas.”
According to Ryan-Lewis, members of the rapid damage assessment team post a notice on homes once an inspection is completed.
“If a building has been assessed and no structural or other safety hazards are found a green card is issued,” he said.
“However, in this case we inspected homes and took the data, but didn’t put up a placard or complete the paperwork due to the small number of inspectors and the need to do as much work as possible in a short period.”
A yellow placard means the building is considered suitable for restricted access until issues are resolved.
“We put up a yellow placard to indicate to the tenant that there are parts of the home or areas that are better not used at the moment,” said Ryan-Lewis.
“The tenants may be asked to not go into the house except to remove contents or to just use part of the home.”
A red notice means substantial issues have been identified and the building is considered unsafe to enter.
The yellow and red notices will show what problems have been identified and what remedial work is necessary to repair the unsafe condition.
“The things we focused on due to the flood were obvious, such as damage to the foundation, the impact of high water on electrical systems and sewage issues,” said Ryan-Lewis.
“If there is an issue, we advise them to get a qualified contractor.”
The rapid damage assessments began on June 29 and were completed on July 8, except for some work that still needs to be done on First Nations land.
The inspections were undertaken by 13 volunteer firefighters.
They received training from a team with B.C. Housing’s Rapid Damage Assessment Program, which trains community members and Emergency Social Services personnel in safe effective damage assessment following a disaster such as a flood or an earthquake.
The courses teach the basic skills to identify unsafe conditions in wood frame, masonry and concrete construction caused by disasters.
Individuals are shown how to assess damage to determine whether buildings can be re-occupied.
Late last month heavy rain and violent thunderstorms pushed many rivers and creeks over their banks in the B.C. Interior, the Kootenay region and the Fraser Valley, after weeks of rapid snowmelt and wet weather.
As a result, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Emergency Program declared a state of local emergency in the 2 Mile and Swansea Point areas, and an evacuation order was being enforced by RCMP.
At least one home was swept away, with many more homes and dozens of cars being damaged after flash floods tore through the community.
The flash flood severed the water main for 2 Mile residents.
District staff and engineers met with Ministry of Transportation staff to co-ordinate the reconstruction of the water line with the reconstruction of Highway 97A, where there were two road closures.
One of the highway closures was about three kilometres south of Sicamous at 2 Mile Bridge and there was another one about eight kilometres south of the community.
A crew of about 50 people and three excavators worked around the clock to restore traffic on Highway 97A, which involved the construction of a temporary bridge by Argo Road Maintenance.
Highway 97A was re-opened on July 5.
Sicamous is a community with a population of about 3,100 residents.
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