Several residents living in the Big Creek area west of Williams Lake have been cut off due to flooding washing out their access roads, other residents have had to leave home.
From his home Tuesday, Bob Russell of Anvil Mountain Ranch said Big Creek began to swell on Friday night and was starting to go over its banks. By Saturday morning water was pouring over the banks.
“It has washed out fences, washed out Witte Road which is our access road, washed out ditches and washed hay fields,” Russell told the Tribune. “The creek has been close to this high two or three times, but never this high. Lots of trees have come down past our place.”
He said it has since receded, dropping by as much as three feet as of Tuesday.
Russell who has lived in the area for 52 years and is a director of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association, said most people would normally call Big Creek a river, but it has never reached the levels it did on the weekend in all the time he has lived there.
They have cattle on the ranch, but they have not been impacted as they are presently up higher, out on the range.
“The only problem will be later as we will be short on hay.”
When asked if his ranch was impacted by the wildfires of 2017, he said, “some, but not really.”
So far Russell has not been contacted by emergency services, but said he planned to make some calls Tuesday morning. He said he is basically retired and his son Shane and his wife Dina Russell run the ranch.
Big Creek flows from Elbow Mountain north to the Chilcotin River, which was put on flood warning by the B.C. River Forecast Centre on Sunday after 90 mm of rain fell in the area during the last four days. By late Monday, water levels were at a 200-year point 1010 cubic metres per second.
Jane Eagle of the Wineglass Ranch, located at the confluence of Big Creek and the Chilcotin River in Riske Creek said they have lost 30 acres of farm land due to the flooding so far.
“The land is sliding into the river and damaging all the irrigation,” Eagle said Tuesday as she described how they can hear the thunderous sound of the boulders rolling in the river bed.
“It’s cutting a new channel. There is lots of log jam debris — both burned and green.”
There is a steady thump and vibration from the landslides, she added.
The Wineglass Ranch has been in the Durrell family for 135 years.
It rained again yesterday, but nothing significant, Russell said.
“The creek is going down now and has gone down quite a bit,” Russell said. “It’s sunny here right now and looking pretty good. Hopefully it will stay that way.”
In an interview Monday, hydrologist Jonathan Boyd with the B.C. River Forecast Centre said it was the first time the centre has issued a flood watch or warning since January of this year.
The Cariboo Regional District activated its emergency operations centre (EOC) on Monday, communications manager Emily Epp confirmed Tuesday.
“At this point we don’t know exactly how many properties are impacted, but are encouraging residents to call us at our EOC by calling our public information line at 1-866-759-4977,” Epp said. “It’s giving us a sense as people call in how many are impacted and we can assess each individual person’s needs and help provide them with the support they need.”
Epp said the CRD is working with partners to monitor road conditions and if people want they should check Drive BC or the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Resource Road Safety Information site for the status of forest service roads.