British Columbia

Vancouver Island village 'like a ghost town' after rock slide evacuation following summer of fires

Residents of the small village of Zeballos, on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, have faced a rough summer of natural disasters from fires to rock slides and are concerned about the long-term impact on their town.

Residents of Zeballos are concerned about the financial impact of this summer's events

An evacuation order is in effect for all houses north of Sugarloaf Bridge, all houses on the east side of Maquinna Avenue, north of Pandora Crescent and all houses on Pandora Crescent, east of Maquinna Avenue. (Village of Zeballos)

Residents of the small village of Zeballos, on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, have faced a rough summer of natural disasters from fires to rock slides and are concerned about the long-term impact on the town.

An evacuation order was issued over the weekend for properties in Zeballos because of the risk of rock and mudslides which poses an "immediate danger" to life and safety.

"It's almost like a ghost town," said Christina Lepore, who lives and operates a number of businesses in Zeballos, including a hotel that is under evacuation order.

"There were a lot of people that moved out of the affected zone and, usually, we have all the tourists walking around with their umbrellas, but there is no one."

The evacuation order for areas of Zeballos comes just after a local state of emergency that was declared last month when several fires burned out of control in the area.   

The fires ravaged the "very steep, rocky slopes" that surround the small town.

Cedars Inn, Lepore's hotel, is one of the properties under evacuation order in Zeballos. (Cedars Inn/Booking.com)

Tourist season 'wiped out'

The summer events are taking a toll on Zeballos, Lepore told Gregor Craigie, the host of CBC's On The Island.

"Summer is when we get all our tourist traffic and a portion of the Zeballos economy is heavily dependant on tourism." 

"It's pretty well wiped out our season."

Her business usually generates about 60 per cent of its yearly income in just the few short months of summer, she said.  

"We have a lot of tourists coming from overseas to do wildlife tours, and they've all had to cancel because there is nowhere for them to stay," she said.

Lepore says not enough is being done by officials to support residents under evacuation or communicate what's happening.

"Considering the emotional and economical toll that these events have taken place, one would  have thought that the public would be better informed and that some services be made available," she said.

"We need to be told what is going to happen and if there's possibility of remedial work."

Rain is forecast to keep falling until Tuesday. When the weather clears, officials are expected to be able to examine the precarious slopes and inform residents of the next steps.

With files from On The Island.

Read more from CBC British Columbia.

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