ROTHENBURGER – When Oak Hills became a lake; when a mountain fell
‘HAVE YOU EVER SEEN anything like this before?”
This has become a mandatory question from reporters when they interview the victims of natural disasters. They ask it mainly because they can’t think of anything better to ask, and also because the answer makes for good voice and video clips.
“Never,” comes the response, as if from a script. “I’ve lived here for 30 years (or 20, or 40 or 50) and I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s unprecedented.”
“Unprecedented.” A word we’ve become used to hearing in the wake of wildfires and now in the wake of flooding.
By unprecedented, we mean it hasn’t been this bad as far as we can remember. In truth, of course, such events are not at all unprecedented.
We’re well familiar with wildfires and floods and even massive landslides in this part of the world. There are probably few Kamloops residents around who remember the big flood of 1948 but more will remember 1972, when waters rose even higher.
On a June day in that year, the North Thompson River breached the dike at Oak Hills and turned the low-lying residential subdivision into a lake. People ferried possessions back and forth from their mobile homes by boat to Westsyde Road on higher ground.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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