‘Ev­ery­thing’s just a to­tal mess’

Slow-mov­ing landslide prompts evac­u­a­tion alert for out­skirts of Fort St. John

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - PERRIN GRAUER

Fall­out from the mas­sive, slow-mov­ing landslide that dis­placed the res­i­dents of a north­east­ern com­mu­nity ear­lier this week has prompted an evac­u­a­tion alert for prop­er­ties on the edge of the city of Fort St. John.

The alert was is­sued Wed­nes­day for a sec­tion of the city’s south­ern­most out­skirts at the top of the steep hill over­look­ing the Peace River and the river­bank com­mu­nity of Old Fort, which was or­dered to evac­u­ate on Sun­day.

Fol­low­ing a fly­over of the slide and sur­round­ing ar­eas and a meet­ing with Old Fort res­i­dents, B.C. Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Mike Farn­worth ex­pressed shock at see­ing the ex­tent of the slide’s im­pact.

“It’s pretty un­be­liev­able when you see the trees that are bent and shat­tered like tooth­picks, and you see these cracks on the hill­side on either side of the slide, and when you see where the road is buck­led,” Farn­worth told re­porters. “It looks like

what you see in one of those earth­quake movies (set in) in Los An­ge­les or Ja­pan, where ev­ery­thing’s just a to­tal mess.”

The slowly mov­ing landslide be­gan more than 10 days ago, tear­ing up and buck­ling the only road in or out of Old Fort. The force of the more than 6 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of earth top­pled power lines and forced the Peace River Re­gional Dis­trict (PRRD) to or­der the evac­u­a­tion of all 54 homes in the

sub­di­vi­sion.

The slide has since moved all the way into the chan­nel be­tween the riverside and a nearby is­land, though the main flow of the Peace River is not cur­rently af­fected.

A news re­lease from Fort St. John says the evac­u­a­tion alert is pre­cau­tion­ary and will al­low city staff to ef­fec­tively re­spond to the con­stantly chang­ing event.

No homes in Fort St. John are af­fected by the alert, which cov­ers two sewage la­goons

de­scribed by the city as “dor­mant and empty.”

Fol­low­ing Sun­day’s evac­u­a­tion or­der, the res­i­dents of Old Fort were told they would be al­lowed back into their homes tem­po­rar­ily to win­ter­ize their houses, pack fur­ther pro­vi­sions and col­lect pets or live­stock that may have been left be­hind.

But that per­mis­sion was re­scinded Tues­day due to fears for “pub­lic safety,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the PRRD.

PERRIN GRAUER/STARMETRO VAN­COU­VER

A slow-mov­ing slide be­gan more than 10 days ago, tear­ing up and buck­ling the only road in or out of Old Fort. It has since moved into the chan­nel.

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