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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council voted down an proposed amendment to the zoning bylaw that would have allowed a cannabis retail store to be constructed between the Last Call Liquor Store and Grizzly Pub. (Photo via Google Maps)
Revelstoke city council rejects fifth cannabis retail store

Council votes down an amendment to the zoning bylaw that would have allowed for the project

Lucas Meyers will be performing his one-man show Revelstoke Project on Nov. 28 via live-stream. (Submitted/Arts Revelstoke)
Upcoming shows cancelled at Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre

The Revelstoke Project will still be live-streamed on Nov. 28

Business district is pictured during a traffic jam in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Morning Start: By 2050, 95 percent of North Jakarta could be submerged

Your morning start for Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Jenn and Josh McLafferty, Owners of Monashee Spirits, which distills a variety of vodka, gin, brandy, whiskey and liqueurs. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
UPDATE: Three more Revelstoke businesses close due to COVID-19 exposure

Ray’s Butcher shop, Monashee Distillery and La Baguette each had a staff member test positive

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

St. James Anglican Church, Armstrong, B.C. (Google Maps).
Prayer at North Okanagan council meetings a violation of religious neutrality: study

New study found 23 municipalities held prayer sessions at inaugural meetings in 2018, in violation of a Supreme Court decision

A worker at Kelowna Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. (File)
Kelowna airport worker tests positive for COVID-19

Individual, who works as a screener, was asked to self-isolate, at which time they tested positive

An assault charge has been filed after a 10-year-old boy was allegedly struck with a watermelon at a Shuswap campsite in August . (File photo)
Alberta woman facing assault charge after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Shuswap campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A Shuswap couple reported having fallen victim to a family emergency telephone scam. (File image)
Shuswap couple fall victim to family emergency scam

Person claiming to be couple’s son said he was injured and in jail

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

The Vernon Aquatic Centre will be closed for its annual three-week maintenance period from Aug. 26 to Sept. 16. (City of Vernon - photo)
Chlorine leak closes North Okanagan pool

18 swimmers evacuated, pool opens shortly after

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Report of gunfire leads RCMP to men barricaded in North Shuswap home

Chase RCMP said investigation related to firearms offences is ongoing

Most Read