Severe washouts close Highway 97A, residents along Mara Lake being evacuated to Sicamous

An evacuation effort is underway for residents along Mara Lake who have been stranded as a result of road washouts along Highway 97A.

Sicamous Creek explodes onto the parking lot at Waterway Houseboats at Two Mile in the District of Sicamous.

Sicamous Creek explodes onto the parking lot at Waterway Houseboats at Two Mile in the District of Sicamous.

An evacuation effort is underway for residents along Mara Lake who have been stranded as a result of multiple road washouts along Highway 97A.

With the highway closed between Grindrod and Sicamous, houseboats and other vessels were heading out from Sicamous at around 9 p.m. Saturday to ferry people stranded in Swansea Point and other residential areas along Mara impacted by the rising lake water.

The Sicamous Seniors Centre is serving as a “comfort centre,” where evacuees can register with the Shuswap Emergency Program for temporary support.

The first washout happened at Hummingbird Creek at approximately 4:30 p.m. The creek overflowed its banks and came crashing down on the highway below, and on through Hummingbird Beach Resort on the lake-side of the highway.

Swansea Point resident Tina Keely says there were two separate “breaks” that occurred up the creek, the first around 4:30 and the second around 7 p.m.

“It was like something had given again at the top, like it was two blockages,” reported Keely. “The washout has washed out part of the highway between the fire hallĀ and Hummingbird Resort, part of Hummingbird Resort is really badly damaged, it’s also running down the channel of the creek, it’s also running right down Swansea Point Road, it’s gone down Worden, down Swanson and all the way along Swan Beach Road. There’s a lot of damage. The boys figure (the water is) between 70- and 100-feet wide on the highway.”

Keely notes Lake Mara Properties has been opened as an evacuation point.

“But the police won’t let any of our people into that area because it’s way to dangerous, the current is way to fast,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Sicamous Creek also burst its banks and debris-filled water came flooding down into the Waterway Houseboats property. At around 8:30 p.m., work crews monitoring the bridge at Two Mile pulled out, fully expecting to lose the structure.

Keely says there’s been numerous accidents reported along the highway, including a pickup truck that went into the lake in Two Mile.The News, however, has not yet received any reports of related injuries.

The News will continue to follow the situation as in continues and provide updates when possible.

Video footage by Kim Hyde, photo by Margo Westaway.