Jonathan Nolan, Michael Nolan, Hope Johnson and Willow the cutest dog hanging, out at the Kwa'lilas Hotel while they wait to be able to return home to Rivers Inlet. (Zoe Ducklow photo)

Wuikinuxv First Nation evacuation to Port Hardy extended to seven days

Rains have not slacked off, keeping landslides a present threat

Around 30 people from Rivers Inlet were evacuated to Port Hardy last week because unusually heavy rainfall is threatening floods and landslides in the small valley community. The Wuikinuxv First Nation reserve is accessible by boat — three hours from Vancouver Island — or a 45-minute flight to Port Hardy.

It took six helicopter flights to evacuate everyone who chose to leave — some folks stayed behind to monitor the situation. Initially, evacuees were told they’d stay in Port Hardy for three days. But the rain still hasn’t lessened, so the evacuation has been extended at least until Thursday, Nov. 5.

The rains meant kids weren’t able to get home in time for Halloween and had to improvise from the hotels.

Barney Walkus and Carina Johnson’s three sons had their costumes ready — 13-year-old Aiden was going to be ghostface from Scream, 10-year-old Mason wanted to be a clown, and five-year old Tristan was all set to be Jason from Friday the 13th.

Unfortunately, the costumes were left behind in Rivers Inlet, so Friday they went out hunting for new characters.

“Rain drops were like this big when we were leaving,” Walkus said, holding his fingers together to show the size of a quarter. “You could feel it hitting you.”

He and Johnson chose to evacuate because of their sons. He didn’t want them to have to experience a last-minute, middle-of-the-night emergency evacuation like Johnson experienced as a child. They also brought their two-year-old pug, who made friends with everyone she met.

READ MORE: Wuikinuxv under evacuation order, more rain in forecast

Hope Johnson and her partner Jonathan Nolan also evacuated with their 12-month-old son Michael Nolan. The landslide risk was too great, Hope said.

The Oweekeno village is on a flat section of land between two mountains with a river running between the massive Owikeno Lake and Rivers Inlet, the sound that extends eastward into B.C.’s rugged central coast. The village butts up against an impressive mountain that can become a forbidding threat for landslides.

Hope, 23, said her lawn was so saturated that rainwater was pooling on it.

“If my grass is like that, imagine what’s going on up in the mountains?”

If a landslide were to come down the mountain, it would bring with it all the rocks and gravel and trees with unstoppable force right onto the little landing where Oweekeno is situated.

“It could happen at any time. You could just be making breakfast and then, boom. The risk was too high for me,” Hope said.

She and Nolan, 24, came to Port Hardy in a helicopter Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 28) with Michael on their lap, one duffle bag of clothes, baby food, diapers, dog food, and their dog Willow at their feet.

They were prepped for 72-hours, but as of Monday, Nov. 2, still don’t have a confirmed date to go home. Nolan is missing work, and the three of them have run out of clean clothes. While there is a basic laundry service in Port Hardy, it means taxiing downtown with a baby and dog in tow (dogs aren’t allowed to stay in the hotel alone), so it seemed easier to just buy new clothes.

So far, no significant slides have occurred, but the rivers and streams are pulsing with rapids. Rain has been pummelling the small village since Oct. 27, and shows no sign of slackening.

BC Emergency Management has been running the evacuation in tandem with local emergency services directors at the Regional District of Mount Waddington and Wuikinuxv First Nation. Representatives have flown over Rivers Inlet to understand what’s going on, and an engineer is on site evaluating the risk of a landslide.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


flooding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Group wants to start a pilot program for regenerative farms in North Cowichan. (File photo)
Group looks to North Cowichan for farmland

Land could also be used for affordable housing

A little light in the window can promote community togetherness. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Shines can be taken quite literally with white window lights

Show of togetherness and support proposed by the Chamber of Commerce for the next month

HISTORICAL MOMENT
The Hope Chest (the original Clement’s drug store) on the left and Gremlin Café on the right of Chemainus Road circa 1950: The Hope Chest building had been the home of barber Jerry Monk, the Clement’s Drug store and later a photography shop. The building housing the Gremlin Café has seen many eateries in its past – The Jolly Trio Café, Mandolino’s and Ashley’s. At one time, it was Joe’s TV store. This is the same scene depicted on Chemainus’ newest mural on the former Leaf Compassion location. (Photo courtesy of the Chemainus Valley Museum)
Historical moment Nov. 5

View along Chemainus Road from the top of Mill Street

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read