By: Korie Marshall
While the weekend rain July 19-20th brought welcome relief for firefighters and the lowered the fire risk in the Robson Valley, it brought with it some different concerns – unexpected flooding from swollen rivers.
On Saturday Canoe River started to swell, causing the evacuation of at least one home. A number of campers at the Canoe River Campground also had to be moved to other campsites on higher ground. By that evening Bob Griffin, owner of the campground, thought the waters were starting to recede, although water was still making its way across the field in front of their residence on Whiskey Fill Road.
Earlier that afternoon, while the River Gospel Music Festival was going on under the tent in the rodeo grounds adjacent to the campground, Griffin and some friends brought truckloads of gravel to the lower area of the campground to try to make a protective berm around some electrical equipment. Campers remained in the dry sites, some of them touring the flooding areas on their quads.
The river has flooded a few of the campsites in the past, but Griffin said he’s never seen it come up this far. He says he often helps out his neighbour to the south of the river, and when he went to check on her that day, he saw the vehicle and animals on high ground so he thought the residence was empty as well. Later that evening, after speaking with the RCMP he found out the resident had been evacuated.
On Sunday, with the River music festival continuing, the water was visibly gone from the fields, though Griffin periodically checked a pump he had set up in a low spot in the campground. He was hopeful the electrical equipment wasn’t damaged, since one of the street lights was on during the night, but he wasn’t sure yet if other things were damaged.
“We’ll rebuild it – whatever we need to do,” said Griffin on Sunday. The campground remains open as usual.
Cpl. Kent Krysanowski confirmed the evacuated resident was able to return to her house the next day.
“Thankfully nobody was hurt and the flooding did not get worse,” said Krysanowski.
Kathy Cloutier, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, says bridges are inspected annually, and as soon possible after events like this. She says maintenance contractor staff were working in the area and inspected the Highway 5 bridge over Canoe River shortly after the surge was reported. They found no damage to the bridge structure, says Cloutier, and clean up of the debris around the bridge will be completed shortly.