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State of local emergency declared at Wasa

No evacuations ordered but residents told to be prepared
Forest Service crews take a break from sandbagging Tuesday at Wasa.

Wasa is on high alert Tuesday as lake levels continue to rise quickly following last week’s record rainfall.

A state of emergency was declared for Wasa on Tuesday, June 25, after the level of the lake rose between four and six inches overnight.

While there was no order to evacuate, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) was warning residents to be prepared to leave flood-affected homes.

“It may happen. We want people to be aware that the water is still coming up,” said RDEK’s Dan McNeill.

Nine homes were sandbagged on Tuesday at the south end of the lake, with crews from the Wildfire Management Branch in Cranbrook out at Wasa to assist with sandbagging efforts.

Two crews of 10 were sandbagging two homes at a time around the ground-fed lake, which peaks about a week after the nearby Kootenay River.

As of press time, the water in Wasa Lake was still about two feet below its level last year, when Wasa also experienced flooding.

Just like last year, the RDEK is advising Wasa residents to boil water from their wells until the water can be tested by Interior Health.

Several wells and septic systems are likely to be underwater as the lake rises.

Volunteers at Wasa Community Hall were helping Tuesday, including Garry Verigin of Wasa Slim Pickins’, whose store donated a truck, skidster and trailer for the efforts. Garry took a week off work to help protect the community he was born and raised in.

“I’ve never seen this two years in a row,” he said.

Three thousand sandbags had already been used by Tuesday morning, but the RDEK had set up an automatic sandbagger to keep them coming throughout the day.