Seven homes have been put on evacuation alert by the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) after a portion of Kersley Dale Landing Road south of Quesnel was closed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI). The road was closed after landslides caused slopes along the road to become unstable.
“The unstable slopes, combined with the potential for further landslide activity and continued creek erosion make Kersley Dale Landing Road unsafe for public use or road maintenance at this time,” a notice from MOTI reads.
The road runs from Highway 97 west to the Fraser River and is located south of Edwards Road and French Road.
The communications manager for the CRD, Chris Keam, said it could be a while before the road is repaired, so the regional district is working with residents living at the bottom of the hill to prepare them for potential problems.
“If [the alert extends throughout winter], we’ll continue to support them in whatever matter we can for that time,” he said. “We are limited in how much we can do because its a road situation so it’s a MOTI thing. We are working with the families to support them in whatever way we can.”
Emergency vehicles are prevented from travelling along the road, forcing the CRD to prepare residents for the worst.
“We had some of our staff out talking with residents, and one of the things they looked at was if a helicopter needs to come in, where is it going to land,” Keam said. “We’re trying to do some of those ahead of the curve kind of things that we can right now.”
Keam added that if the danger increases, the evacuation alert could turn into an evacuation order.
“You need to be prepared to go,” he said. “Have your necessary medications and all those sorts of things close at hand. You should have a grab and go bag ready to go. Know how long and how far it will take you to get out, what your route is. Basically when you’re on alert, we encourage people to have a plan.”
Some of the affected properties are agricultural, meaning they’ll need continued access despite the road closure to look after their cattle and other animals.
“[Farmers] can’t just lock it up and walk away,” Keam said. “They need to keep going in, in some cases, or stay in to take care of their livestock.”
Keam said he thinks fall and winter road closures and landslides could become more common, as the climate continues to change in the Cariboo, with more precipitation expected in the years to come.
“We weren’t surprised to see this; it’s always a question of where you’re going to see this stuff,” he said. “We’re going to see this more and more both in the spring and in the fall, and over time, we’ll gather that intelligence and have a better understanding of where the problems are each year, and get in front of them.”
The ministry of transportation is expected to give an update on the road’s status on Nov. 24.
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