Mandy Bath said she is “lucky, very lucky.”
Her home was one of three that was destroyed in the landslide that tore through Johnsons Landing on Thursday morning.
“We had the house on the lake shore at the bottom of Gar Creek on the lakeshore,” she said. “When the first slide came down, it came down in two directions, but the main part of the slide came down and crushed the house severely but didn’t wipe it out at that point. There were timbers and it was crumpled but it still looked like it might be possible to salvage things, that was after day one. That was why I went up there, I thought that I might find my cat.”
But when the second slide, which is described to have been water, mud and debris, came down on Friday, Bath’s home was washed into Kootenay Lake.
“It was obliterated and just finished off the job and now there is nothing except a muddy slope where the house was,” she said.
Bath was supposed to be at the house.
Her husband was in Oregon visiting his mother.
“I hadn’t been able to get a ride to town on Tuesday, I wanted to go to Kaslo, there was a meeting I wanted to attend and I sent an email asking if anyone could take me into town. Nobody responded so I couldn’t go to town,” said Bath. “On Thursday morning my friend Gillian, her house was also badly damaged, asked me if I wanted to go to town. She picked me up at 9 a.m. and I was at Creek corner looking at this brown, thick, awful liquid, but she picked me up and carried me off to town, and I was saved because of that.”
The “brown, thick, awful liquid” Bath describes is Gar Creek.
She, and many other neighbours had been noticing changes in the water, and now realize they were warnings signs.
“There were warnings. Hindsight is a fabulous thing but there were warnings,” said Bath. “It turned from being water to a slurry. It was like a chocolate mouse. It was running higher and higher.”
The Bath’s driveway went right over Gar Creek and Mandy said the night before the slide, she had been up, watching the creek.
“I was worried,” she said. “I was up at midnight the night before the slide with a flashlight, looking at the creek worried that the bank was going to give and looking at the colour. I couldn’t sleep. I was really worried that something was wrong.”
The creek went from the colour of brewed tea, to a thick slurry.
“It was painting the sides of the creek with a mask of mud on every leaf and every rock. This was a serious warning sign,” said Bath.
Now the Baths are residents of Kaslo, something Mandy is still coming to terms with.
The couple had lived in the small community for 20 years.
“It’s a new chapter,” she said. “We have left Johnsons Landing. We never imagined it would be like this. We are very lucky that we have a house in Kaslo and that’s where we’re going to be living from now on. I say those words and it’s hard to believe it. It’s hard to take in what we’re saying because we never expected we’d have to leave. It’s the most beautiful place to live…You just don’t expect that today’s the day that it’s the end of it all. It’s only afterwards you take it in.”