FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After a lengthy evaluation period, the orders were lifted Sunday, and some residents have returned home.
Old Fort resident Gord Pardy expressed his experience in a recent interview, he, his wife, daughter, two dogs and bird were set up in a hotel since the evacuation by the PRRD. Emergency Social Services provided evacuees with meal vouchers to help as the residents were displaced, Pardy says “Living in the hotel was a help, yet it was tough and unsettling.”
Pardy has been a resident of the Old Fort area for 25 years and expresses, “if we had lost our home we would have lost everything, our home is everything.” The night the news came to return home, Pardy goes on to say, “As soon as word came, everything was packed in the truck, and we were headed home.”
Although residents are home the stability of the slide is still unclear and will continue to be on everyone’s minds until the final report will be released on November 9th, 2018.
“We need to know the recommendations for the slide are acted upon so this evacuation does not happen again if there is slide movement we want to have a say in our lives,” Pardy says.
“During this ordeal, we never gave up hope; you have to be prepared to stand on your feet.” Pardy shared “this situation was frustrating with the lack of communication, the way the residents were spoken to and addressed was uncalled for.”
Pardy’s first night in his home was “comfortable,” yet he says “The slide is always on the back of my mind.”
Although with the tempory access road back into Old Fort, not all residents will be returning home. During the time of the evacuation, the Pardy family took extreme measures to rescue the remaining family member that could not leave at the time of the Evacuation order. Sugar a 32-year-old Arab/Welsh pony was retrieved and led out of the Old Fort during an intense rescue and recovery to remove her from the Old Fort during the time residents were told not to return home.
“Sugar spent her life giving to our kids, and she was living out her remaining days, she was not going to be left behind.” Sugar now resides on another property and will live out her days with a new donkey companion as she will not be returning home with the uncertainty of the area and with her age. Pictured here is a capture from the day of the rescue of Sugar looking back down on the Old Fort a home she has always known.
With the frustrations and issues with displacement still on their minds and now home, the new task ahead is preparing for winter in the Old Fort. These people are resilient and tight-knit, the earth of the slide may have been rattled and spread loose, yet the slide brought the people together, closer and stronger because of it.