The Gaspard Creek was damaged by recent flooding in the Chilcotin and remains closed. Ministry of Transportation photo

CRD estimates 47 properties impacted by flooding in Chilcotin

Ministry of Agriculture visits producers impacted

It is estimated 47 properties were damaged by recent flooding in the Chilcotin, mainly in the Big Creek area.

Of those 47 properties, 18 are residential, 23 are ranching or farming properties, and the remaining six are tourism operations, said Cariboo Regional District communications manager Emily Epp.

“That doesn’t include title lands, the Tsilhqot’in National Government emergency operations centre is reporting on those.”

Damage to residential homes is minimal, and the majority of impacts are to hay fields, fencing, irrigation systems and driveways.

A Ministry of Agriculture rep was visiting residents Thursday and Friday to meet with producers.

Epp said staff at the emergency operation centre is fully shifting to recovery mode with a main focus of supporting residents for the long-term and working with government ministries on funding and supports for those residents.

Dina Russell and her husband Shane of Anvil Mountain Ranch are some of the residents impacted who are now in the process of cleaning up.

Read more: Big Creek area road washed out due to flooding

“Big Creek is back in its banks now,” Russell said Thursday.

“We will have to rebuild one kilometre of fence and we have over 50 loads of gravel to take off that came out of the creek bed onto what was our grassy pastures.”

Russell said they won’t be able hay close to 200 acres because there is still water laying on them or debris.

“If it doesn’t rain for the next six weeks we may be able to hay then,” she said, but added Thursday morning as she talked from her home that it was pouring rain. “It has been raining off and on.”

Most of the roads are open for traffic, she added, but said their water was still not drinkable.

“We are thanking whoever brought us some bottled water.”

Overall the whole experience has been crazy, and at times, disheartening, Russell added.

“As ranchers we expect to deal with the weather and sometimes get flooding, but this year we had so much rain in July and it has been worse than it’s ever been.”

Russell said one of her neighbours had to leave because there was eight to 10 inches of mud in her home and some other properties have been hit much worse than they were.

Epp said during a community meeting being held in Big Creek on Saturday, July 20 at 2 p.m., there will be representatives from the ministries of forestry’s water stewardship, transportation, agriculture, Emergency Management B.C.’s disaster financial assistance, Canadian Red Cross and the CRD.

“It will be a chance for residents to gather information and chat with the agencies. Each agency will give a formal update and there will be time for questions,” Epp said, noting the CRD hopes to gather feedback from residents about how the response has gone and what they need to get back to normal.

Read more: Disaster financial assistance available for Chilcotin flood victims

Road repairs

When contacted by the Tribune, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure provided an update on road repairs in areas impacted by the flooding.

Taseko Lake Road near the Yunesit’in First Nation

Work was completed in early July to re-open this road due to the flooding that occurred in June. The larger culvert (2000 mm dia.) that was installed prior to the most recent rain event was able to manage the flow. However, a previous diversion channel to the south was overwhelmed and the road base materials were washed away.

The ministry will be placing an additional culvert in the diversion channel early next week, and this work should take approximately two days to complete. A local detour is available via the Minton Forrest Service Road.

Word Creek Road (Gaspard Creek)

Gaspard Bridge on Word Creek Road, just off Gang Ranch Road has experienced significant damage and the road remains closed. Gaspard Bridge is a wooden structure with two mid-span wooden bents, and the wooden bent on the north side is confirmed missing. It is confirmed that there are no residents beyond this point. The road is barricaded with appropriate signage and the ministry is continuing to monitor. Over the coming weeks the ministry will be consulting with local stakeholders on the long term requirement to re-establish this crossing.

Farwell Canyon Road (at 54km, 56km and 57km)

Repairs at the 57 kilometre site are complete, and work at the 56 kilometre site is planned to be completed Friday. Crews will then mobilize to the 54-kilometre site to initiate repairs at that location. There is no current estimated time of opening on the 54 kilometre site, but the ministry is hoping to have these repairs completed next week. There is an alternate route available to residents via the Farwell Canyon Road to the south and then through the Big Creek road system.

Sky Ranch Road

The road has been re-established to the point of the last resident, and repairs continue beyond that point. Crews continue working to reinforce the primary site where Big Creek overflowed its banks, near the bridge. Once this work has been completed, the crews will restore Sky Ranch Road and Mons Lake road, adding additional drainage and road base materials.

Newton Whitewater at Siwash Creek

Due to earlier concerns with the road conditions at this location when the flooding event occurred, a geotechnical assessment was required before work could begin this past Monday. The crew is progressing with the repair with the goal to have this location repaired by the end of this week.

Dog Creek and Meadow Creek Roads

There are several significant washouts and debris flows on these two roads west of 70 Mile House. There are two First Nations Reserves in the area, one of which is not impacted and the other is well served by an alternate road system. Representatives from both the Dog Creek and Canoe Creek Bands met with the ministry and flew the area earlier this week to formulate a plan. Meadow Creek Road was opened earlier this week and the crews continue to work to re-open Dog Creek road near it’s junction with Meadow Creek Road. It will require more time to return the road to its pre-flooding condition. A larger culvert will need to be installed at one of the washout sites, and the banks will also require reinforcing.

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The Russells at Anvil Mountain Ranch will be busy clearing their hay fields impacted by last week’s flooding of Big Creek. Dina Russell photo

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