Jim Gillam photo                                Mudslides near the north end of Riverside Road (above) and adjacent to Zettergreen Road destroyed two sections of Highway 97A in Mara on May 5 and 6.

Jim Gillam photo Mudslides near the north end of Riverside Road (above) and adjacent to Zettergreen Road destroyed two sections of Highway 97A in Mara on May 5 and 6.

Sicamous, Mara not spared from weekend deluge

Two mudslides close Highway 97A, flooding damages Old Town Bay Road

Given the extent of the damage experienced elsewhere in the region over the weekend from mudslides and flooding, Mara resident Pat Gray considers herself fortunate.

Murray and Pat Gray live in the 7000 block of Highway 97A, next to one of two creeks that burst their banks on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6, sending destructive torrents of water, mud and debris over the highway and into nearby properties.

As of Monday afternoon, one of the creeks was still raging near the Gray’s residence – located just north of the north end of Riverside Road – but not to the extent that it was on Saturday.

“This is not noisy right now,” said Pat. “You should have heard it Saturday. It was pretty scary. I thought it was going to come over into our yard but it didn’t.

“When it first blew from the culvert, it came out over our driveway and into the yard a little bit, but not really bad. It’s absolutely amazing, the force of water, like, what it took with it. A lot of the dirt and exposed roots you see now.”

Pat said her driveway currently looks like a creek bed. Pat said her husband had to set a plank out over water that cut off their driveway from 97A, in order for her to access her vehicle. She said damage from the flooding can be seen throughout her neighbourhood.

“There’s other roads that are washed out bad, like Davey Road. There’s a drop, probably 85 feet down, and the lady who works at the store, she lives above there and she’s been really watching it. She’s only got one lane to try and get by it. It’s horrible. I’d be too scared to drive up it,” said Gray. “There’s a lot of damage out here. A bank went through someone’s house, went through the basement, that’s the house right across from the Mara store up on the hill.”

Considering news of what’s been happening elsewhere in the Shuswap and the province in regards to high water, flooding and mudslides, Gray acknowledges the damage at her property could have been worse.

“I listened to the news and heard what happened to other people and figured, we’re pretty good,” said Gray.

The first of the two mudslides to hit Mara occurred Friday night, sometime before 8:45 p.m. according to DriveBC. The slide is located south of the Gray’s property near Zettergreen Road. Sometime during Friday’s deluge of rain, a creek near Zettergreen developed into a debris slide that wound up covering the highway.

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil said single-lane, alternating traffic was rerouted along Riverside Road Friday night until that too became a safety concern and was closed.

“The creek at the south end of Riverside Road, it was getting higher and higher, and there was concerns trees and debris would move down to Riverside as they were working on 97A,” said McNeil.

As of Tuesday, May 9, Highway 97A was open to single-lane, alternating traffic, as highway crews continued to do remedial work on the slide.

The District of Sicamous also had to respond to two flooding incidents over the weekend. The larger of the two occurred along Old Town Bay Road. Mayor Terry Rysz said there was some initial flooding on the road Friday night that wasn’t thought to be too serious. Rysz said district staff returned to the site of the flooding around 8 a.m. on Saturday, however, and saw that matters had become worse, particularly near the district boat launch where water had begun to undermine the road.

“What basically happened was there’s a culvert on the main creek that comes down alongside the actual boat launch there, and the culvert on the upper side, about 300 yards from the lake where the road continues on in the subdivision that’s proposed for there, was plugged,” said Rysz. “These culverts end up plugging and water starts going everywhere and creating all this damage right. We had electrical boxes that were under water and so forth… but we got it under control.”

Rysz said the issue would have worsened if not for quick action by district staff, including operations manager Joe McCulloch, as well as Coun. Jeff Mallmes.

Plugged culverts were also to blame for the pooling of water on Highway 97A in 2 Mile Saturday morning. Rysz said staff had them cleared by noon.

Overall, Rysz said Sicamous’ experience was minor compared to what happened elsewhere over the weekend.

“We got hit, but not like other communities did,” said Rysz. “Ours is actually relatively minor.”

Looking ahead, with weather and snowpack conditions similar to what they were prior to the flooding that occurred in Sicamous in 2012, Rysz said he and council have made emergency planning a part of their agenda.

“Over the next year or two, we’ll be looking at how to prepare ourselves a little bit better,” said Rysz.

The mayor added that despite the current flooding conditions and subsequent turbidity, the community’s new water treatment plant continues to produce clean water.