Update 3:50 p.m. April 23:
Good news for Silver Creek residents.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) has announced that the residents whose homes were evacuated Saturday night can return home immediately with their belongings and pets.
Darcy Mooney, emergency operations centre director, said the overland flow of ground water has been put back in channels. However, he said residents should check their properties before nightfall as some of the drainage channels might come through their properties.
“They will need to assess their properties for sand and sandbags,” he said, noting that SEP will coordinate delivery of sandbags to the Silver Creek Fire Hall for use by the affected residents. He expects they’ll be there by 4:30 or 5 p.m.
Asked why the water flows happened, he said the geotechs have not completed their reports yet. He said there are deactivated forest service roads in the area that are heavily used by ATVs, motorcycles and other off-road vehicles, adding that that’s an observation, not a conclusion.
Regarding the potential of a recurrence, he remarked: “The geotechs have said there is no greater risk than before the incident.” He added that a host of activities could have contributed.
Mooney said the geotechnicians will be following up with a written report that the CSRD will distribute to the residents when it’s complete.
Update 1:25 p.m. April 23:
No decision yet on whether evacuated residents can return to their homes in Silver Creek, but a decision is expected by about 3 p.m. today.
The Shuswap Emergency Program reports that “geotechnical crews continue to assess the properties in the area of instability due to groundwater flow in the 1600 Block of Salmon River Road. Ten properties remain on evacuation order and an update is expected by 3 p.m. today.”
Darcy Mooney, emergency operations centre director, said the crews have been on site since early this morning, first by helicopter and now on foot.
“The snow pack was lower than anticipated and ground water flow was lower than anticipated,” he said. “It has subsided since yesterday, so there are some positive things, but they’re making their way down the hill now. Then we will get a better sense of the complete picture, from the highest reaches where the snow is, to the impacts on properties and the road.”
He noted that public safety is paramount so crews are making sure it’s completely safe before any decisions are made.
For motorists in the area, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure crews will be working in the 1600 block of Salmon River Road in order to mitigate the water flow impacting the road. Mooney said they will be working on the shoulder to try and direct ground water to where it needs to go.
The road will be reduced to single lane alternating traffic while the work is completed and motorists can expect 10-minute delays. The work is expected to be complete by 4 p.m today.
Update 11:25 p.m. April 22:
The evacuation of 10 properties along Salmon River Road is being called a precautionary measure by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).
The evacuation order, announced late in the evening on April 22, is in response to ground water creating possible slope instability.
The properties affected by the evacuation order are: 1605, 1615, 1618, 1626, 1629, 1635, 1648, 1652, 1655 and 1656 Salmon River Road.
Darcy Mooney, who is coordinating the CSRD’s emergency response, said a reception centre has been set up at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and the majority of the affected residents have checked in and been provided hotel accommodations.
He said the RCMP are going door-to-door in the evacuated area to ensure the area is empty and residents know where the reception centre is.
A geotechnical assessment will be conducted by helicopter and on the ground tomorrow morning with further information expected in the early afternoon.
“We’ll have a better sense after our call at noon whether we need to extend the order or rescind,” Mooney said.
Salmon River Road remains open to traffic but security is on site to ensure no vehicles stop in the evacuated area. The public is being advised to avoid the area.
As of 9 p.m. Saturday, April 22, residents of seven homes located between the Silver Creek Firehall and 1671 Salmon River Rd., and five homes on the opposite side of the road, have been told to leave their homes tonight.
Water is flowing across Salmon River Road near the Silver Creek Community Park and a new stream has formed.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations officials are concerned about the state of the forestry road and the stability of the land.
Plans are being made to send engineers up in a helicopter to fly over the area and assess the situation tomorrow.
Further updates will be provided as more information becomes available