Photo: John Crowley

It was first a noise that awoke Christa Maxeiner. It was 1am and she went to get a glass of water. When she peaked outside she saw the rising waters of Leona Creek. When she opened the door – her nose picked up a familiar smell.

“It smells very, very muddy. It is a smell I know.”

She needed to check if her car was ok, as it was parked by the creek.

In the morning, she saw the mudslide caused by the swollen creek and plugged highway culvert, which stopped highway traffic west of Tete-Jaune. Her adjacent neighbour John Crowley says the creek is fairly narrow, not more than 10 feet wide, but comes down the mountain steeply, in a narrow canyon.

Debris had built up higher in the creek due to rain and snowmelt, which pushed water out into their fields and, miraculously, around Christa Maxeiner’s house.

“It builds up pressure and then bursts, sending debris like a wall of stuff coming down,” Crowley says, who said they had flooding in their lower fields.

The blow-out caused 5-6 ton boulders to tumble down the creek onto the highway, closing the highway in both directions for several hours. It later opened with one lane on Monday afternoon.

The bridge that traversed the creek on Maxeiner’s property was “blown to pieces,” Crowley says.

When she received the evacuation order Monday night, Maxeiner grabbed a few belongings and went to stay with friends near McBride.

But she says she is expecting visitors at her place soon, and has no way to reach them. She also has a letter she needs to mail right away that is in her house.

This is the first time she received an evacuation order in her 22 years living on the property. When she first moved there the creek rose four times in the first 10 years. But recently she has “lived peacefully.”

“It’s an old story,” she says, of the flooding. “I’m experienced to that, but this time it seems to be different with the evacuation.”

“I’m not used to it. I wasn’t prepared to go one week.”

Luckily the only damage to her property is the bridge, and a lot of mud in front of her house, she says.

On Tuesday morning, she was waiting for a phone call from the regional district to give her an update on the evacuation order.