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Residents and volunteers ignore evacuation order to help Old Fort residents

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Residents and volunteers, defied the evacuation order Wednesday morning to try and help residents of the Old Fort.

Despite warnings from the RCMP and Peace River Regional District, approximately eight jet boats met at the Peace Island Boat Launch to help residents get supplies from their homes in the Old Fort.

Organizer Bob Zimmer said it all started with a Facebook video on Tuesday, “We thought folks needed help to get things out of here.  So we thought let’s call some friends, and a bunch of boat owners started saying look we can come out there and give a hand and we’ve seen the effort today, it’s been amazing.”

Jeff Garrison also helped to organize volunteers and supplies.  “We contacted contractors in the area to come and help.  We had local contractors come in and help to winterize houses. We’ve had supplies supply equipment and supplies and a helicopter delivering people and supplies.”

Organizers and volunteers felt they had to ignore the Evacuation Order that was put in place Sunday after residents of the Old Fort expressed frustration with the information being shared by the Peace River Regional District.  Local resident Scott Campbell has stayed with his home in the Old Fort, and he still doesn’t understand why the entire community was evacuated.

“We don’t feel as residents that the slide is coming our direction.  We check it all the time.  The slide is going west, not east.   The order given to us to evacuate here is not a reasonable order.”

It’s unclear how many homes were winterized during the visit, as the RCMP had to enforce the evacuation order and asked volunteers to leave the community by noon that day.  The Peace River Regional District said Wednesday morning they were working on a plan to winterize homes, but they won’t start until it’s safe in the community.

“At this time, it is not safe for ANYONE to enter the evacuation order area – from land or by water. Volunteers MUST NOT enter this area and MUST not transport anyone to the EVACUATION ORDER area,” said the PRRD in an update on its website.

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On Wednesday the Peace River Regional District expanded the evacuation alert to more homes above the slide.  Read more about that change by clicking here.

The main landslide continues to move.  The Old Fort Road has changed dramatically in the last 24 hours.  Images below show the changes near the main slide.