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The Peace River Regional District is maintaining an evacuation alert for communities south of Dawson Creek – encompassing about 650 homes – but mostly out of an abundance of caution, said Wayne Hiebert, who represents the affected communities as the director for Area D. He said the ground is still very saturated, rivers and creeks are dropping but remain high, and rain is expected in the area throughout the week, so they want to make sure residents are prepared just in case.
“Basically, we’re sitting in a holding pattern, watching for the water levels to go down, hopefully,” he said.
As of this morning, though, he said no evacuation orders had been issued for residents in those rural areas, though he suspects more than a few may have self-evacuated out of an abundance of caution. He added he is aware of a few rural roads that may have been washed-out, be he doesn’t believe anybody in the area has been stranded as a result.
Hiebert said the regional district’s deputy chief administrative officer, along with a geotechnical engineer, were conducting a fly-over of the region on Monday to assess and report any major issues.
He added the district’s office in Dawson Creek remains open all day as a regional emergency response centre and can be reached at anytime at 250-784-3200 with any questions or concerns.
In Tumbler Ridge, the town’s high elevation and design protected it from any flooding issues, said Mayor Larry White.
“There’s absolutely no issue with flooding. It’s pretty dry here,” he said.
However, BC Hydro has alerted the town that a transmission tower located about 68 kilometres south of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam that supports a 230-kilovolt transmission line supplying power to Tumbler Ridge is at risk due to erosion caused by heavy rains and high water flows in the High Hat Creek.
“We are evaluating any mitigation to protect the structure, and exploring any contingencies in case we loose the line,” said Dave Conway, community relations manager for the public utility.
He added there is a geotechnical engineer on site, but he is not sure what recommendations may be proposed at this time.
There have been no disruptions to power in Tumbler Ridge as of this afternoon, White said, and BC Hydro is not warning of any planned power outages for the area at this time.
Conway said BC Hydro will continue to update the district and local media on the situation.
White said the district is attempting to dispel any rumours that the town is facing a potential power outage of days or even weeks.
“We’re putting out fires in that area – you know how things can escalate,” said the mayor. “We had big line ups at the gas station!”
Highway 52 between Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge remains closed indefinitely due to 15-metre section of the highway 26 kilometres south of Arras. However, a detour is possible either via Highway 2 south of Dawson Creek to the junction with Highway 52, or Highway 97 to the junction with Highway 52 at Chetwynd.
Paul Gordon, deputy director of engineering and public works with the District of Chetwynd, said despite the town receiving about 80 millimetres of rain over the weekend, they were able to mitigate any issues with rising creek levels by having crews and heavy equipment of standby.
“We didn’t experience any further damage,” said Gordon, though he said that was accomplished by having crews on 48 hours straight.
Highway 97 between Chetwynd and the Mackenzie Junction remains open, though heavy trucks are not being permitted at this time, and motorists can expect major delays. Highway 29 between Chetwynd and Hudson’s Hope is also open, though motorists are asked to obey traffic control personnel and signage and to watch for work crews and equipment at multiple locations.
Be sure to check out www.drivebc.ca for the latest information on road closures and delays throughout the region. Mile 0 City will continue to update the situation in Dawson Creek and all communities in the South Peace.
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