Mother Nature caused headaches all over Lillooet last week as residents contended with closed highways, leaking roofs and flooded basements.
The combination of a melting heavy snowfall, buckets of rain and unseasonably warm daily temperatures of 8.6 and 11.2 degrees brought down a rock slide on Highway 12 on Thursday, Feb. 16, closing the highway in both directions 14 kilometres north of Lytton.
A geo-tech crew from VSA Hwy. Maintenance assessed the rock slide Friday, Feb. 17, rock scaling was underway on Monday, Feb. 20 and the route remained closed as the News went to press Monday evening.
No detours are available and travelers were advised to use alternate routes on Highways 1 and 99.
For updates on the status of the road, please check the DriveBC website.
The uncertain road conditions created by the unpredictable weather have created problems for local businesses, including Savona Specialty Plywood Co. Ltd., which is unable to ship wood out of its Lillooet plant because of the slide on Highway 12 and weight restrictions on Highway 99 North.
Lillooet Feed and Garden owner Bea Galliazzo said the weather this year is “unlike anything I’ve seen in 24 years of owning and operating our business.
“It’s not unusual to miss a freight run and have to re-schedule it during the winter months, but this year has been crazy. Most scheduled trips since December have been a hit-and-miss situation.”
She said the disruption in her freight runs has affected her customers and her sales, because she hasn’t been able to bring in the regular pet foods and feeds their pets and farm animals rely on, causing intestinal upsets for the animals and distress for their owners.
Galliazzo added that she hasn’t been able to obtain the usual winter supplies of salt for her customers, because salt has been diverted to the Lower Mainland.
The condition of local roads makes it hard to “just go around” on her freight routes, said Galliazzo.
She said the Duffey Lake Road is a scenic route not meant for heavy freight trucks, while Highway 12 is the major link to the Lower Mainland.
“When it is closed, freight becomes a very major issue,” said Galliazzo.
The heavy rain overnight on Feb. 15-16 caused huge puddles to form on streets and in yards and flooded basements in several homes.
Roshard Road resident Carmen Langdon told the News “everything was fine” at her home on Wednesday, but her when her children’s nanny Jhoan woke up Thursday morning around 8, “she went to put her feet on the floor and put them into cold water.”
She said the water flooded the entire basement to a height of about six inches. “Things were just floating everywhere,” said Landon, who said she was able get the basement drained, only to have it refill again with water coming up through the basement drain.
Langdon said she had earlier taken note of the accumulated snow near her home and asked her husband Allen to shovel it away from the house. He did that, but that couldn’t prevent water from coming into their home through the drain.
Carmen Langdon praised the quick response from the crew at Lillooet Contracting and said the damage to her basement is covered by insurance.
She added that her mother Marnie Rose went through the historic 1948 Fraser River Flood in Matsqui and her grandparents had furniture from that disaster that was water-stained and had cut-off legs where water damaged had occurred.
“I remember they had these tiny short chairs,” said Langdon. “We only had eight or nine hours of flooding, they had days of it.”
Thursday also proved to be a challenging day for Kathy Grossler and her son J.T. Hansen.
Grossler got a call that day from her son, suggesting she should leave work at Lightfoot Gas and see what was happening at their farm property in East Lillooet.
When she arrived, water that had gushed down the hillside had opened up giant cracks in the road to the farm, leaving chunks of washed-out roadway here and there.
“The water came off the hill, down the road and kept on going into the river,” said Grossler. She said the force and amount of the water prompted worries that it was going to wash out Highway 99 as well, but a local contractor came to the rescue, preserving the highway.
Grossler told the News the flooding was an act of God and she doesn’t believe it would be covered by insurance.
However, she added, she has “friends who have road equipment and they’ve offered to help with the road.”