Evacuation alert issued in B.C. Interior
Floods, sinkholes, avalanches and mudslides leave residents scrambling
Posted: Apr 27, 2012 11:18 AM PT
Last Updated: Apr 27, 2012 8:24 PM PT
An evacuation alert has been issued for an area in B.C.'s Interior due to an immediate danger of a flash flood, local authorities say.
The order applies to residents in the area of Chute Lake, about 20 kilometres south of Kelowna.
The order — issued by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen — did not specify how many people lived in the area affected. However, about 90 homes have already been evacuated.
The threat was the latest in a torrent of weather-related natural disasters that have hit B.C.'s interior, forcing people from their homes, closing highways and stranding travellers.
A slow-moving frontal system brought significant rain to interior parts of the province causing substantial flooding, as well as unusual avalanche activity, sinkholes and mudslides.
In West Kelowna, B.C., residents along Hitchner Road have had their houses flooded for the second time in two days.
On Wednesday, water from McDougall creek spilled its banks and flooded three homes, including Ondreia Robie's house. Crews were able to divert the water back into the creek and build up the banks overnight.
'It's filling up again — another eight feet.'—Ondreia Robie, West Kelowna homeowner
Then Thursday afternoon the creek burst through the dike a second time.
Robie said she and her partner, Doug Grant, had just finished pumping out two metres of water from their finished basement, when water started pouring in again.
"It's beyond frustrating. It's devastating. You think once, ok, and you come back and it's filling up again — another eight feet," said Robie Thursday night.
"You know, Doug has been here for almost 30 years. It's horrifying. He doesn't even know which way to look. I mean sleepless nights are going to be endless."
Trucks are now hauling large rocks and dirt to build a wall to divert the flood waters away from her home, and backhoes are building up the sides of the creek, said West Kelowna fire chief Kerry Klonteig.
"And the work now is to just basically keep the banks stabilized. Again to try and protect some of the infrastructure in the residential homes," said Klonteig.
Unusual spring avalanches strand travellers
The Canadian Avalanche Centre is warning people to be wary of large avalanches in parts of the Purcells and Kootenary-Boundary regions not known for slides.
'People have been trapped.'—Karl Klassen, Canadian Avalanche Centre
"In some cases, these slides have been rated size four or larger and are creating new (or at least new to us) avalanche paths by cleaning out many hectares of mature timber," warned Karl Klassen, public avalanche warning service manager.
"There are several cases where people have been trapped when they drive up a dry road in the morning then come back in the afternoon to find tens of metres and thousands of tonnes of snow covering the road," wrote Klassen on Thursday.
"In one place the slide ran across the valley bottom where it hit the road on the other side after climbing uphill. This one was completely covered with trees, making the snow almost invisible underneath."
Flooding and sinkholes close highways
Traffic is flowing again between Burns Lake and Houston, after a sinkhole two kilometres east of Topley, B.C., forced the closure of Highway 16 in both directions.
A mudslide just east of Salmon Arm, B.C., late Thursday, forced the closure of Highway 1 in both directions overnight, and pulled a tree down over power in the area, knocking out electricity to 368 homes. The highway has since been reopened and power restored.
In the Kootenays, highways have been reopened after summer melt and rain caused mudslides between Nelson and Salmo on Highway 6 and Highway 31, north of Trout Lake. Highway 3 was washed away east of Castlegar at the Bombi summit, but reopened Friday morning.With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan and Bob Keating
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