Yukon residents rally to bring home Yukoner stranded in Hope, B.C.

·2 min read
A section of Highway 5 was washed away by the surging Coquihalla River near Hope, B.C. on Monday. Yukoner Shirley Dawson was stranded in Hope for a few days after all the highways leading of the community closed down. (Submitted by Jeremiah Steberl - image credit)
A section of Highway 5 was washed away by the surging Coquihalla River near Hope, B.C. on Monday. Yukoner Shirley Dawson was stranded in Hope for a few days after all the highways leading of the community closed down. (Submitted by Jeremiah Steberl - image credit)

A Yukoner who was stranded in Hope, B.C. for three nights is heading back to Whitehorse after some Yukon residents raised over $4,500 to charter a rescue helicopter flight.

Shirley Dawson was among the hundreds stuck in southern B.C. after powerful rainstorms triggered mudslides and closed down highways.

According to Dawson, she and two friends were travelling from Kelowna to Abbotsford on Sunday when they got stuck in traffic for two hours, about 60 kilometres from Merritt.

"There was so much traffic backed up that we were going about five kilometres an hour," Dawson told CBC's Airplay host Dave White on Monday.

They then decided to turn around and arrived in Hope at about 10 p.m. Sunday night.

Safe but nowhere to go

They quickly realized there was no way to leave the community as all the highways were closed. Heavy downpours triggered flooding, landslides and destruction around much of southern B.C. The Trans Canada Highway was, and still is, closed in both directions for almost the entire stretch between Abbotsford and Hope.

"When we got here, Hope was completely out of power, it felt like we were driving into an abandoned town," Dawson told CBC on Monday.

"It was like a zombie apocalypse or something rather strange. It was really weird."

Dawson and her friends were safe, but had nowhere to go.

"First night we slept in our truck," said Dawson. "Monday pretty much spent the whole time in our truck. There was one restaurant gas station open because they had a backup generator, so that was completely packed. We were in line-ups from one hour to three hours just to get, you know, water, snacks, to sit down and eat."

Dawson and her friends posted on Facebook asking if there was somewhere they could stay in Hope.

An elder in the community volunteered to take all three of them in, along with two other stranded people.

Community rallied to help

Dawson says thanks to the local community, she and her friends had all the necessities.

"There was a lot of people reaching out on Facebook," said Dawson. "There was one guy that said, I'm in a black truck. I have some food. You know, he was worried about children not being able to eat."

On Monday, Dawson told CBC she was just waiting for "some good news."

On Wednesday, Dawson's sister Doris Bill posted a plea for help on Facebook, asking community members to help raise funds to charter a helicopter.

Bill told the CBC she managed to raise about $4,600, more than enough money to pay for the helicopter rescue of Dawson and her two friends.

Dawson and her two friends were picked up by a helicopter in Hope on Wednesday, according to Bill.

Dawson is taking a flight back to Whitehorse Thursday.

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