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

Just Posted

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

Comedy balloon artist Mike Dada of Sidney hands two-year-old Mila Yiau a balloon flower as she holds the hand of her mother Hannah Liao at Sunday’s street market in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney Street Market parks in temporary location for 2021

Market open Sundays at Mary Winspear parking through Oct. 10

Commonwealth Place recreation centre was shut down before 8 a.m. on Friday following a power outage. (Saanich Parks, Recreation and Community Services/Twitter)
Saanich Commonwealth Place closed due to power outage, outdoor classes still running

Indoor classes, programs at pool and weight room halted

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Royal Bay Secondary School students paint the crosswalk in front of their school in support of LGBTQ and marginalized members of the community (Royal Bay Secondary School photo)
Senior student leaves mark at Royal Bay Secondary School for LGBTQ+ students

Crosswalk at Colwood school painted in support of marginalized community members

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Entire Duncan school evacuated after nearby gardener finds buried explosives

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Arts group promotes digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

Most Read