Heavy rain in West Kootenay is causing slides and washouts, closing roads and bridges, breaching dykes, and possibly isolating some residents.
Highway 31 was closed in two places due to mudslides and washouts. Schroeder Creek overwhelmed its banks and flooded the highway 13 km north of Kaslo. It has now reopened to single-lane traffic.
A mudslide at the Lardeau Bluffs 27 km north of Kaslo closed the road, but crews have reopened it to single-lane traffic with 30-minute delays. It’s unknown when it might reopen fully.
Highway 31A is also closed between Kaslo and New Denver due to washouts. DriveBC estimates it will reopen sometime between 2 and 5 p.m. Friday. No easy detour is available.
“Over the past day and night this area has received over 80 millimeters of rain,” said Darrell Gunn, district operations manager with the Ministry of Transportation in West Kootenay.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay activated its emergency operations centre this morning with flooding mostly a concern in and around Kaslo.
In a news release, they warned residents to exercise “extreme caution” around creeks.
“Personnel are on the ground and in the air gathering information as several days of heavy, continuous precipitation is impacting creeks and streams in the region,” the release said.
The emergency centre can be reached at 250-352-7701.
Areas of particular concern include Mirror Lake, which has lost its water system, and Fry Creek, where a campground has been washed away, although there isn’t believed to be anyone there.
Nancy Wakefield at the Mirror Lake campground said they were using bottled water, but “still functioning as well as you can in this rain.”
The Hamill Creek bridge north of Argenta has also washed out. The abutments that hold up the bridge have been compromised, according to residents, creating a hazard for anyone trying to cross.
The bridge provides access to a handful of homes and Glacier Creek regional park. Going into a 12:30 p.m. conference call, rural Kaslo regional director Andy Shadrack was concerned some campers and residents may be stranded. “I have all kinds of questions,” he said, adding that he dealt with sandbagging issues Wednesday night.
RCMP and fire officials are also on alert, but Kaslo Cpl. Shaun Begg told the Star he is not aware of any injuries. Begg said they haven’t determined exactly how many people are stranded. He was aware of issues at Poplar Creek as well, where water is spilling onto the road. Highways contractor Yellowhead Road and Bridge is trying to get to that site, he said.
The Silverton dyke also breached this morning, and an emergency declaration is expected, but the village office wasn’t immediately able to provide any more information.
The rain is further blamed for a sinkhole on Highway 6 near Crescent Valley Wednesday afternoon that reduced traffic to single lane while repairs were completed.
The regional district also issued a boil water notice for the Riondel water system. Testing showed water quality is poor due to increased turbidity.
Environment Canada continues its heavy rainfall warning for the entire Southern Interior, which means 25 millimetres or more of rain could fall within one hour.