At times this past spring, storms on Okanagan Lake wreaked havoc, with waves bashing into property and sweeping docks away.
But the worst damage was caused as Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes slowly and inexorably rose beyond all expectations, creeping up beaches, seeping into crawl spaces and finally flooding home after home.
One of the worst hit areas in the Valley was at the north end of Okanagan Lake, where about 400 homes, both permanent and seasonal, were damaged at Head of the Lake and the Louis Estates.
Evacuation orders were put in place, leaving people out of their homes for weeks on end. Both neighbourhoods sit on lease land owned by members of the Okanagan Indian Band.
Even now, many residents are still working to fix their property and shore it up against any future aqua invasion.
“We're still cleaning. The neighbourhood is cleaning up,” said Cindy Brassard, a lakeshore resident at the Louis Estates.
The Brassards were one of the only families who refused to obey an evacuation order. Instead, they stayed put to shore up sandbags on their property with a moat system that more or less worked.
“Our crawl space got flooded, our hot tub room got flooded (but) that's minor stuff compared to losing everything in our house,” Brassard said.
Many of her neighbours were not so lucky and have been tearing up floors and drywall for months in order to restore their homes.
Brassard said all of the neighbours and the OKIB came together for the initial cleanup of properties.
“We got a Bobcat and helped moved debris out of people's yards. The band came and picked it all up.”
The clean up job on OKIB land was so massive that by the middle of July, crews had already collected 175 tonnes of wood waste from the north end. As well, 9,000 litres of contaminated water had been collected.
Like many, the Brassards are working to rebuild the lakeside part of their property, which took a serious beating.
“We've rebuilt our front water wall with heavier timber and pylons and made it higher. Twenty feet back from that on our property, we've built a cement retaining wall.”
When asked if it marred the look of the land, Brassard simply said, “I feel safer.”
Other areas were also affected.
The City of Vernon and District of Coldstream set up sand and sandbags stations that were constantly replenished.
Many lakefront properties in Okanagan Landing suffered damage.
The District of Coldstream closed boat launches at the north end of Kal Lake and the Rotary Pier was closed due to structural damage.
Brassard said she hopes a similar situation doesn't develop next spring, although she and her husband are perparing for the worst.
“An environmental expert was down here and said they were expecting next spring to be the same,” she warned.