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

Royston resident and photographer Tanja Kerr took a quick video of two eagles taking a quick dip in the water earlier this week. Video still/Tanja Kerr
Video: Eagle spotting in Royston

Photographer Tanja Kerr ensures her camera is always nearby

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Union Bay electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

The Northeast Woods in Comox is a popular area for hikers and mountain bike riders. It's also a protected park and conservation area. Photo by Scott Stanfield
Comox Valley RCMP seeking witnesses to ‘indecent act’ in Northeast Woods

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after a man was seen… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read