Repair work continues at Commotion Creek

Repair work continues at Commotion Creek

BC VIEWS: Heavy weather events aren’t new

Premier Christy Clark exploits another natural disaster, this time the latest flood damage to northeast B.C.

Premier Christy Clark flew up to Dawson Creek for the second time in a month on June 19, to survey the damage from a storm that dumped 130 mm of rain on the region in two days.

At Chetwynd, where Highway 97 emerges from the Pine Pass through the Rocky Mountains, the highway was severely damaged after water poured under and across it in the middle of town. The CN Rail tracks and adjacent roads were washed out.

In Dawson Creek, large culverts under the main street were plugged by debris, sending water over the road and generating a much-viewed video of a white car precariously perched on the edge as the torrent surrounded it.

“Floods happen,” Clark told CTV News. “But not floods like this.”

The CTV report, filed from Vancouver with dramatic video to show the worst in Dawson Creek, agreed with the premier’s line: “The Peace region last rebuilt from significant flooding in 2011, but the damage was much worse in this latest case.”

Wrong.

The same day, the Alaska Highway News quoted Maria Butts, Peace Region district manager for the Ministry of Transportation, on the situation. She noted that Highway 97 was washed out in at least five places.

“This was a very powerful storm, quite uncommon … but the assessment of damage does not appear to be as extensive as it was in 2011,” Butts said.

That’s consistent with my own news reports in the wake of the 2011 storm. Again, it dropped about 130 mm on the Pine Pass in late June.

In that event, a 64-km stretch of the highway between Prince George and Chetwynd was washed out or damaged in 77 places. Repairs continued into the fall.

Northwestern B.C. received even more rain, with damage to four bridges, 10 large culverts and more than 20 km of roads in the Bulkley-Stikine highways district.

I drove up the Trans-Canada Highway in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 storm, which had affected most of the province to some degree. The divided highway east of Chilliwack had just re-opened after a mudslide poured across it, trapping one vehicle whose passengers escaped unharmed.

I drove that route again last week, with only a sprinkle of rain here and there. Every time I pass the large pump station coming into Hope, I’m reminded of the summer of 1983, when I worked at my first reporting job there.

Summer in Hope got off to an exciting start when torrential rains washed out the Trans-Canada Highway west of town. Again, it was in June.

I had to walk along the closed highway for about a kilometre to get pictures of the huge cut in the divided highway roadbed, and the stretch of CP Rail tracks left hanging in the air after water removed the railbed below.

Mother Nature wasn’t done with the Fraser Canyon in 1983. That fall, having returned to Vancouver to resume journalism school at Langara College, I turned on BCTV news one evening to see the effect of heavy rains on a little motel with cabins along the bank of Silverhope Creek.

The old cabin I had stayed in that summer was gone, and the one next to it was badly undercut and about to fall in after the swollen creek had shifted its course.

Heavy weather wasn’t a political issue in those days. “Climate change” hadn’t been invented, so there was no motivation for politicians to rush to the scene and pronounce each disaster the worst one ever.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Town has passed the 2021 budget, with a five per cent spending increase. (Claire Palmer photo)
Town council approves 2021 budget and tax rate bylaw

The budget will increase by five per cent this year

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

The community is rallying around Phil Hotzon who needs a new electric tricycle. (Contributed)
Tricycle for Phil: Support pours in for Kelowna man with traumatic brain injury

Phil Hotzon lost his electric tricycle after falling into Mill Creek, fundraiser aims to replace it

The area around the Christie Mountain wildfire that was restricted to the public is no longer restricted effective at 12 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (BC Wildfire photo)
The area around where the Christie Mountain wildfire took place is officially restricted to the public effective May 12. (BC Wildfire photo)
Christie Mountain wildlife area near Penticton closed to public

The area was damaged in 2020 by the Christie Mountain wildfire

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered on remote road near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

A topographic (3D) perspective captured from Google Earth to create a perspective of the approximate proposed cut block outlines on Mount Ida in relation to familiar local landmarks. (Alex Inselberg image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief said proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts next to industrial park

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

The Salmo Public Library’s director Taylor Caron with her award. Photo: Submitted
Salmo Public Library director wins provincial award

Taylor Caron has been recognized by her peers for innovation and advocacy

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

Most Read