ROTHENBURGER – When Oak Hills became a lake; when a mountain fell

MP David Anderson (second from left) tours Oak Hills flood in 1972. At left is Bill Mercer. Merv Chertko is second from right, and the Armchair Mayor is on the right.

‘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 opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9504 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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