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Flooding hits Mt. Currie, remote lake sees evacuations

State of emergency declared at Tyaughton Lake as debris blocks creek



While all eyes were on the flooding problems in the B.C. interior, some residents in the Sea to Sky region also suffered a few tense moments, with two separate incidents from rising waters causing a state of emergency to be declared north of Pemberton, and property flooding at Mount Currie.

Four homes were under evacuation order from remote Tyaughton Lake, located north of Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park, over the weekend (June 23 and 24), in Area A of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD). This followed a landslide blocking a creek with debris, leading to a backup of water and flooding.

"With one house, more stuff did come down and it was severely impacted by flooding waters," said SLRD chair Susie Gimse in an interview. "We don't know yet what that damage is."

By Monday, SLRD and provincial officials, along with geotechnical engineers flew over the area and rescinded the order.

By Tuesday, June 26, Gimse was able to report that the threat had passed.

"Staff is working with the province and homeowners on the cleanup. Everyone is safe and mobile," she reported in an email to Pique.

At the same time closer to Pemberton, areas near the Mount Currie Reserve also flooded around people's homes. Non-reserve residents living nearby were also impacted.

Diana Conway, who lives near the reserve along the Birkenhead River, had rising water nearly reach her house after heavy rains on June 23.

The response from the SLRD brought 1,200 sandbags to her home and nine emergency workers to install them.

"When I said the water was half a metre from the back door, the district was there in 15 minutes," she said.

Changing river patterns in recent years is creating the problem, she said. Last year the water stayed on her land for eight weeks and was "a mosquito festival." This year, it was the speed that astonished her.

"It came in faster. A little bit came in less than in a week ago, then a little bit more, then suddenly it was at the back door. It came so fast," Conway said.

Another concern was the heavy water sitting on top of septic tanks, creating a potential health hazard, Conway said.

"There are a lot of short-term solutions, but really this needs federal funding. Everybody knows it," she said. "If it was a big urban centre we'd get more action."

While the waters had started to recede from her property by early Tuesday, she was told to expect them to rise with expected rainfall. SLRD emergency representatives were planning to place sandbags all around her house, she said.

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