Two photos showing the incredible devastation caused by a mudslide July 4th 2020 on Willox Creek. /PHOTO SUBMITTED

By Andru McCracken

A July 4th debris flood on Willox Creek near McBride has changed the landscape forever, and even though fewer houses are now under evacuation, for some residents life is not as usual.

Jim Chiupka’s property remains under evacuation order.

“I totally get it. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, they are doing their best,” said Chiupka.

He’s waiting for geotechnical and engineering reports on the area which aren’t expected until mid-September.
In the meantime, he can’t live in his house.

“I told them, winter approaches very fast. We have to make accommodations if we are not allowed to live there. They do have some funding to buy us out, but we don’t know how much,” he said.
That’s good news but there are a limited number of homes on the market in the area.

“If I want to live in McBride I have to act quick to find something,” he said.

Chiupka’s home was hardly touched by the debris flood that engulfed Garry and Mabel Moore’s house just across the street. The 24 inch culvert that normally carries the creek under Mountain View Road is on the corner of his property. Incredibly, his home and the contents of it were undamaged though he did have some debris flow into his shop and yard.

“I have a golden horseshoe around my house,” he said.

Because the home is potentially in the path of a future debris flood, Chiupka will most likely have to leave.

“It’s really shitty living in limbo. I hope we can get some going forward answers in September. They have to step up to the plate, they really do,” he said.

On July 21st, the Regional District reduced the number of homes under Evacuation Order on Mountain View Road following the Willox Creek Debris flood.

“…imminent risk has diminished in parts of the evacuation order area,” said Hilary Erasmus, a Public Information Officer for the Regional District.

The evacuation order remains in place for four properties: 4460, 4453, 4442 and 4413 Mountain View Road.

The order is rescinded for 4494 Mountain View Road. The order was downgraded to an evacuation alert for three properties on Mountain Ash Road as well as 4431 Mountain View Road.

Those on evacuation alert are asked to move equipment and farm implements to higher ground, make arrangements for livestock and pets to move to safe locations, have important papers in water tight containers and to move valuables to alternate locations.

They also recommend preparing a 72-hour emergency kit that includes medications.

The Regional District asks that residents comply with the evacuation order to keep residents safe.

“More debris events are probable and they can be fast moving, volatile and unpredictable,” said Erasmus.

Regional District Director Dannielle Alan said authorities, including the Regional District, are working hard to help residents.

“Everythings seems to take longer than we want it to, especially for those under the evacuation order,” said Alan.

We reached out to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for a comment on the situation.

A spokesperson for the Ministry said the Province works closely with local governments to provide Disaster Financial Assistance to help individuals, businesses and local governments through uninsurable disasters.

“The Province has only considered buy-outs in the most exceptional of circumstances,” the spokesperson said.