One year after Princeton, B.C., was evacuated due to flooding, some homes are again at risk due to slope instability.
The town issued an evacuation alert on Wednesday afternoon for all properties along Jacobson Road, as well as for 175 Tulameen Ave. On Thursday, the alert was rescinded for several properties, but as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, two properties remain on evacuation alert.
Mayor Spencer Coyne said having to issue the warning on the one-year anniversary of last year's evacuations was difficult, as residents are still exhausted from trying to recover from last year's devastation.
"Having to put that [alert] out, it weighs heavy because it's going to bring back memories and whatnot," he said on CBC's Radio West on Wednesday.
Roads closed, buses suspended
A stretch of Old Hedley Road — from what's known as The Brown Bridge to Old Merritt Highway — is closed to all traffic in Princeton, resulting in the suspension of bus service for students who attend John Allison Elementary School, Princeton Secondary School, Vermilion Forks Elementary School, and The Bridge, which runs alternative programming.
With no buses running, many parents are driving their children to and from school.
Bus service was first suspended on Wednesday afternoon, and it's not clear when it will resume.
"If the road isn't open for [Friday], we would be asking the same thing: that parents drive their students to school," school district superintendent Stephen McNiven said.
"We are looking at possible plans for next week, to try and put a temporary solution in. It may involve some walking, and changes in bus routes."
Slope has been moving 'significantly'
Princeton is located about 170 kilometres south of Kamloops in the B.C. Interior and has about 3,000 residents.
One year ago, an atmospheric river that hit the province caused the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers to overflow their banks and dikes. That resulted in at least five square blocks of the city being flooded in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2021.
Homes were destroyed, and even now, some residents don't have potable water.
Ground saturation is the current problem and led to Wednesday's alert being issued.
"We have a slope that's above one of our roads, [and] we have some residents above it," Coyne said.
"In the last 24 hours, it's moved significantly, so out of precaution, we've issued an evacuation alert, and we've got a geotech team coming in tomorrow [Thursday], hopefully in the morning, to check it out and make sure it's not going to fall down. It's a pretty scary spot where it's happening.
"There's been a bit of a problem all summer, but not to this extent," Coyne added. "And all of a sudden, something major has changed in the last week."
Coyne noted that there's a spring in the area and that the culvert that keeps it draining into the nearby Tulameen River has been plugged by debris coming off the hillside.
Coyne said the stretch of road that's affected is about the length of four football fields.