Update 12:00 p.m. April 11.
As two properties on Caen Road in Sorrento have been placed on evacuation alert, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) is urging residents of nearby properties to keep an eye on the creek.
Those living near Newsome Creek are asked to report any significant changes to the creek’s flow or course and to avoid an area five metres from the edge of the creek channel.
The residents on evacuation alert are being told to gather essential items and get ready for a quick departure. It is also recommended that they make preparations to move any disabled people, children, pets and livestock.
As the snow in the mountains begins to melt, apprehension builds for residents along Newsome Creek in Sorrento.
Erosion of the creek’s steep banks caused by changes to its course, which occurred during the extreme freshets of 2017 and 2018, is putting people’s homes at risk.
Jocelyne Gilbert, who lives along the portion of Caen Road where erosion from the creek was most severe, said she is back on evacuation alert due to concerns with the stability of the steep creek bank. Gilbert’s house and her next door neighbour’s are named in a CSRD evacuation alert.
Eleven properties located on Caen Road in Sorrento were on evacuation alert between early May and late October 2018.
“There’s so much anxiety here. Some days I’m bawling my eyes out,” Gilbert said.
With the creek flowing again, erosion is beginning once more. Mark Hemmingson lives along the creek north of the Trans-Canada Highway and is involved in the Newsome Creek Watershed action group who are lobbying to have the creek’s banks fixed.
Hemmingson said a noticeable amount of sediment has recently washed away from the wall of the creek on its west bank near the highway. Several trees have also come down in the area of the creek bank near the highway.
In January, the CSRD Board voted to match the provincial government’s $25,000 contribution to do a study needed before work in the creek could begin. Using the government funding, a work plan is being devised; it is expected to be complete soon.
Hemmingson said the community is eagerly awaiting the results of the work plan to see what work is necessary, and how much it will cost.
“That plan is the one that everything is kind of hinging on; like is it going to cost $2 million or $7 million to fix the creek and what does ‘fix the creek mean?’ That’s our next big step, waiting on this plan,” he said.
Hemmingson said they were told the plan would be completed by April 11.
Gilbert said she is packing items from her house and looking to put them in storage. She fears that if the erosion continues her deck at the back of the house nearest to the creek will be undermined and she will be compelled to evacuate.