Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

October 15, 2018 - 4:02 PM

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. - Some residents of the northeastern B.C. community of Old Fort are being allowed to briefly return to their homes after they were ordered out last week because of a slow-moving landslide.

The Peace River Regional District says on its website that residents with homes in the eastern portion of Old Fort, furthest from the slumping hillside, will be ferried up the Peace River to their properties, beginning at noon Monday.

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Those owners allowed to return will have a chance to retrieve belongings and prepare their homes for winter, but will not be allowed to remain on their properties.

The notice says temporary access permits will continue until all owners have had a chance to return to Old Fort, or as long as it's safe to be in the area.

Re-entry permits were approved after a Sunday meeting with residents — two weeks after the hillside separating Old Fort from nearby Fort St. John began edging downhill, tearing up the only road to the community, knocking out power and threatening homes.

The district says a maximum of two people per residence will be allowed into their home and they may bring out one suitcase, one carry-on and one tote or box for each person verified to live in the home before they're transported out by boat.

Only those who are 19 and over will be granted temporary access permits, the district says.

Gord Pardy says his wife and one of their four daughters will be returning to their home to get some items while he starts a new job this week.

He says residents heard at the meeting that groups of 30 people at a time would be allowed to return home.

Representatives of the Transportation Ministry and the regional district were at the meeting on Sunday, he says, adding residents heard the road to their community appeared to be "looking good."

He says some residents think there's too much caution keeping people out of their homes at this point.

"Nobody will take responsibility and say we're good to go," he says.

Pardy says his family has been staying in Fort St. John after being forced to leave their home of 25 years.

"Myself, my wife, my 12-year-old daughter, my two dogs and our bird are all living in a hotel room. It doesn't even have a kitchenette."

BC Hydro says in an emailed statement that a distribution line was damaged in the landslide and it's considering building an alternate route for the line, either as a temporary or long-term solution in order to restore power.

"We're working towards having a solution ready to implement once the evacuation order is lifted and our crews are able to access the area to begin repairs."

It says the regional district will make a decision on when that will happen.

The Transportation Ministry says it is aiming to establish road access to the community as soon as the slide stops moving.

"We are actively investigating temporary access route options. However, it is currently not safe to start construction."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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