UPDATE as of 9 p.m. – The PRRD has expanded the evacuation order to one more property. The home at 6786 265 Road is also now under an evacuation order.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Eight more properties have been placed under an evacuation order due to the Old Fort Landslide.
The slide continues to grow with the latest assessment showing cracks have been discovered all the way down to the Peace River.
The following properties have been put under an evacuation order: 9911 265 Road, 7711 Old Fort Road, 7587 Old Fort Road, 7583 Old Fort Road, 6975 Old Fort Road, 9820 River Road and 9813 River Road.
An Evacuation Order is put in place when there is an immediate danger to life safety.
Activated tonight by PRRD and RCMP to assist with delivering a few more evacuation orders to Old Fort residents.https://t.co/jVOfzK21rf
— North Peace SAR (@NorthPeaceSAR) October 7, 2018
When an Evacuation Order is issued, people must leave the area immediately, follow the directions of local emergency officials and evacuate using the route(s) they’ve identified. Do not return home until you’ve been advised that the Evacuation Order has been rescinded or canceled.
Community meetings held Saturday
Saturday afternoon Peace River Regional District Board Chair, Peace River North MLA Dan Davies and Prince George, Peace River Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer hosted two meetings for residents of the Old Fort.
At the meeting in Fort St. John residents expressed their frustrations with the lack of communication since the slide happened one week ago. While many residents are still living in the Old Fort, others have left and are staying with family and friends in Fort St. John.
Brad Sperling is the Chair of the Peace River Regional District, and the District is in charge of dealing with this emergency. Chair Sperling expressed his frustration that even though the Regional District is in charge, they need to ask for permission from the Province before implementing anything.
“There’s a time-lapse because (Emergency Management B.C.) is not in the PRRD office with our people. If our people ask for or have to decide something they have to pick up the phone and wait for the response from Emergency Management B.C.”
Chair Sperling says the process has to change. “The process has to change. If the Regional District issues a state of emergency, then Emergency Management B.C. should have personnel on site the next day.”
Peace River North MLA Dan Davies says he met with Mike Farnworth the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General on Thursday and shared gave the minister an update on the situation and invited the Minister to visit the community. MLA Davies says communication is still an issue. “We have a lot of questions, and the residents have a lot of questions. There seems to be a communication breakdown, and we have to start improving that.”
The Peace River Regional District is working to provide potable water to residents of the Old Fort. The company has started to deploy a water hose down the hill and will be setting up temporary barricades at the bottom and midpoint of the hill.
The PRRD is asking that residents not to travel up and down the hill on quads or side by sides while the hose is deployed due to the safety risk to area residents and water company personnel. For liability reasons and safety reasons, the water company has to stop work anytime someone heads up the hill, and it delays the work by at least 30 minutes.
The hope is to have potable water available to the residents of the Old Fort by Sunday.
During the meeting on Saturday in Fort St. John Chair Sperling said the PRRD would pay for the water needed by Old Fort residents after Emergency Management B.C. said it would be up to residents of the Old Fort to pay for the water.
Alternate Road Access
The Ministry of Transportation continues to look at alternate access to the Old Fort. One option is no longer available due to the increased area covered under an evacuation order. The second to build temporary bridges to a nearby island and then over to Site C is currently being investigated. There is no timeline on when an alternative route to the community will be created.
MLA Dan Davies also mentioned he has asked for permission to use the boat launch at Site C to help decrease the travel time to Fort St. John. The MLA said he hopes to receive approval and have that in use this week.
The BC Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources has authorized the removal of material from the gravel pit located above the original slide to relieve the weight on top of the slide. This activity is under the direction of a professional geotechnical engineer who is monitoring it for any further movement.
The PRRD Emergency Operations Centre has provided the site operator with an entry permit to conduct this work within the evacuation order area based on the conditions set by the Ministry and their geotechnical engineer.
There will be a community meeting on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Stonebridge Hotel. MLA Davies says there will be an official from Emergency Management B.C. at the meeting. That person should have more information about the size of the slide and what will happen next.
Residents of the Old Fort are welcome to attend the meeting in Fort St. John. The meeting will also be streamed live on the Peace River Regional District’s website at www.prrd.bc.ca, and it will also be streamed live on the Energeticcity.ca Facebook page.