Three Salt Spring Roads Still Closed After Floods and Washouts

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NOTE: All three roads referred to in this story remain closed to regular traffic as of 3 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Salt Spring Island is slowly recovering from record rainfall that led to flooding, washouts and road closures as well as widespread power outages and impacts on the island’s drinking and wastewater.

The Environment Canada southern Gulf Islands weather station at Saturna Island measured 15.2 millimetres of rain on Saturday, and 59.4 mm on Sunday, both records for those dates since data was kept there (1980). Monday’s data is not available.

Three roads remain closed across the island, including Isabella Point Road in both directions due to a washout between Musgrave and Roland roads. North End Road is closed in both directions after a mudslide and washout between Acheson Road and Fairview Drive. Footage Monday showed mud and foliage strewn across the road and a median pushed out into the roadway.

Fulford-Ganges Road is closed in both directions between Blackburn Road and Horel Road West. The closure was caused by flooding of Blackburn Lake Monday.

DriveBC is set to update drivers again at 7 p.m. Tuesday, via drivebc.ca.

Jean Brouard, a resident in the Isabella Point Road area who is also active with the local emergency preparedness pod, said there are an estimated 100 families cut off from the rest of the island by the road closure. At its height on Monday, Brouard said there was around 15 inches of water flowing over the road from Larlow Creek at the area locals refer to as “Stella’s dip,” “cougar dip” or simply “the dip.” Brouard said he’s been in the area for 25 years and hasn’t seen anything like this before.

Colleen Adrian, whose property borders on the creek, said it was “a little bit scary yesterday. The water was really roaring.”

As rocks, debris and water were coming down and across the road, Adrian noted the culvert appeared completely blocked. A small excavator attended the scene, but was too small to reckon with the flow of water.

By Tuesday morning the water was down to four to five inches, and RCMP had put caution tape across the road. Some people have driven through the area at their own risk, and it is also possible to pass on foot through a neighbour’s yard, Brouard said. The RCMP don’t want anyone crossing the road until it is checked by an engineer. There is no timeline for when this could happen, Brouard added.

Adrian, who helped a few people cross the creek using a plank from her woodshed yesterday and today, said the creek itself is around a foot deeper than it was before. About three feet of earth beside her driveway was also swept away, along with salmonberry bushes and foliage.

Power outages affected 1,300 people on Monday on Salt Spring. Dave French became an impromptu first responder Monday as he very nearly missed a powerline snapping and coming down, “smacking the road, showering sparks everywhere and promptly catching on fire,” he recalled of the incident on Fulford-Ganges Road just before Jones Road. “I slammed the brakes and came to a stop about 40 feet from the power line.”

With cell service spotty on that stretch, it took some effort to get a good enough line to explain to a 9-1-1 dispatcher what had happened. French then proceeded to block traffic with his truck and began frantically waving vehicles away from the wire that was still live.

“It was sparking and shorting and it would light up on fire for a minute and then go back out with a large humming sound,” he said, yet the rain kept the nearby brush from being ignited.

First responders arrived on scene around 15 minutes later, and that was when French decided that he’d had enough of that workday.

“Live power lines shorting, throwing sparks in my general direction is enough to make anybody, especially me, go, ‘You know what? I’m going to go home and curl up with the cats.’”

Along with roads and power, drinking- and wastewater systems on several parts of the island were also affected by the downpour, as reported on this site yesterday and earlier today. Residents of some Morningside and Tahouney road properties are being told they need to boil their water until further notice, and heavy rain led to wastewater from the Ganges and Maliview treatment plants to spill into the ocean nearby.

The Driftwood has reached out to Emcon Services, the RCMP and the Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue for further information.

Crews use an excavator work to repair Isabella Point Road in the area where large amounts of rainwater and debris spilled across the road Monday. (Photo courtesy Colleen Adrian)
Neighbours gather on one side of RCMP police tape put up on Isabella Point Road Tuesday at 10 a.m. after extensive flooding caused damage to the road Monday. (Photo courtesy Jean Brouard)
Water still flowing over Isabella Point Road at the dip, yet at a substantially lower rate, on Nov. 16.  (Photo courtesy Jean Brouard)
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