ENDERBY - A road, a bridge, and a community’s link to the nearest city was swept away by a barrage of water and debris Friday.
About 300 feet of Mabel Lake Road near the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre is gone. So is the bridge over Cook Creek. In its place is a massive debris field of hundreds of logs, crumbled pavement, dirt and sand.
Vernon Search and Rescue manager Leigh Pearson says it’s an incredible amount of debris.
“It’s a major event here,” Pearson says. “Probably 200-300 people in the Kingfisher community are trapped on the wrong side of the bridge.”
Resulting from the landslide, hydro and telephone lines were severed. The North Okanagan Regional District is assisting the Kingfisher community and coordinating Emergency Social Services. The Mabel Lake Water Utility is expected to have sufficient capacity for the weekend, however residents are urged to conserve water and reduce usage as much as possible.
As of Saturday afternoon, road crews were proceeding with a target of re-opening Mabel Lake Road to single lane alternating traffic on Monday. B.C. Hydro crews are on site undertaking repairs and power may be restored between 8 p.m. and midnight Saturday.
Supplies of bottled water, medical supplies and generators are being staged on the Kingfisher side of the washout in case they are needed. To ensure site safety and to assist in road re-opening, the public is being asked to avoid the area until the road is re-opened for public access.
Search and Rescue was called out at 6:45 a.m. with the initial report being a flood, people calling for help and possibly a vehicle in the water. Both turned out to be false, but there were some tense moments before crews confirmed everyone was safe.
“We had a good cheer when we got confirmation over the radio everyone was accounted for. That was a big relief, everyone cheered and clapped. It was pretty awesome,” Pearson says.
The residents from one home near the debris field ran from their house when they saw the flood approaching.
“They would have seen a wall of mud, it would’ve been unbelievable,” Pearson says.
It’s unknown what caused the flood, though Pearson has a hunch after observing the scene from the air.
“It looks like there’s a lake up there that was either formed by a beaver dam or an ice dam or a combination of, and the water built up and built up because of snow melt and finally it just couldn’t take it anymore and it let go. And it really let go,” he says.
The Kingfisher Interpretive Centre, which has a salmon hatchery, took a major hit, Pearson says. The extent of the damages are not yet known, but fortunately no staff were on site when the flood occurred.
A considerable amount of logs and debris is floating in the Shuswap River and authorities are monitoring downstream in case complications arise.
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- This story was updated at 6:06 p.m., Saturday, May 3, 2014 to add new information from the RDNO.
- This story was updated at 10:04 a.m., Saturday, May 3, 2014 to add photos of the washout and again at 5:40 p.m. May 3 to add information about the targeted reopening of Mabel Lake Road, as well as the emergency response in Kingfisher.