FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A long-time resident of the Old Fort subdivision south of Fort St. John says that residents are coping as best they can with having the only road to the community being covered by a landslide that occurred over the weekend.
Gord Pardy, who has lived in Old Fort since the mid-1990’s, said that though some of the community’s residents have evacuated since the hillside above the community began to slide on Sunday morning, the majority are still in their homes and awaiting more details from authorities.
“People are still trying to figure out what to do,” said Pardy. “We’re hoping to get a meeting with the emergency group sometime this afternoon where we can figure out what our options are. We don’t expect this to be a short-term thing, the slide is quite large and it’s still moving. We’re cut right off.”
A spokesperson with the Peace River Regional District said this morning that staff were working on getting meetings with residents and evacuees set up, but that exact times and locations for those meetings had not yet been confirmed.
Pardy said that the PRRD has organized riverboats to help evacuate residents, while helicopters have also been seen down in the community.
He said that there are several foot trails that go through the trees below the base of the slide that allows residents to access the Old Fort Road uphill from the slide area, while residents are also able to hike out of Old Fort directly up the hill.
Pardy said that some have been using ATV’s to climb the hill from Old Fort towards the Fort St. John motocross track, though he added that the route isn’t for the faint of heart.
“It’s not that easy. The hill is very steep, it isn’t for everybody. I wouldn’t take my wife up it, and my daughter might not be too thrilled either. Emergency Services have come down it, the RCMP came down that way. Other than that, it’s boat or helicopter.”
BC Hydro said that crews are currently working to restore power to 52 customers in Old Fort who lost power on Monday, with electricity estimated to be restored by 6:00 p.m. Tuesday.
As for when the Old Fort Road will reopen, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said that it won’t likely be able to provide more details on the landslide specialists’ assessment until later this week.