Almost two dozen people had to be rescued from an RV park in Parksville last weekend, due to intense flooding in the area.
Arrowsmith Search and Rescue were dispatched to help evacuate 22 people and eight pets Sunday night and into Monday morning, from Parry’s RV Park on Martindale Road.
SAR president Nick Rivers said evacuations started around 11 p.m. and finished at about 6:45 a.m.
Martindale Road remained closed Monday morning between Stanford and Despard avenues, after the Englishman River topped its banks and flooded an approximately 200-metre stretch of the road.
At the same time SAR members were evacuating people from Parry’s RV Park, search and rescue team members were also performing a rope rescue in Lantzville to rescue a woman from a mudslide that washed out Rumming Road in the middle of the night.
Because of that, Rivers said, Arrowsmith Search and Rescue received help from Comox and Alberni search and rescue at the RV park.
Rivers said after finishing the rope rescue, the team headed back to Parry’s RV Park.
“At the deepest point, it was about eight feet deep at the worst time,” Rivers said.
Regional District of Nanaimo board chair Bill Veenhof said Parry’s RV Park flooded badly and quickly.
Asked on Monday morning what will happen for Martindale Road residents stuck on the other side of the flooding, Veenhof said he didn’t have an answer at that point.
At one point Monday morning, a resident paddled a kayak across the flooded Martindale Road to tell an RCMP officer posted near the Stanford Avenue side that motorists were requesting permission to drive across.
“We are recommending against it,” the officer said. “We haven’t seen the road surface since midnight, so we don’t know what it looks like.”
Martindale Road in Parksville, Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek, Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose Bay and Rumming Road in Lanztville were all closed as of 3 a.m. At the same time, the RDN activated its Level 2 Emergency Operations Centre which will remain open through to Tuesday (Jan. 30).
Veenhof said staff will reassess the situation in the morning, adding it’s “safe to say the situation has stabilized.”
Veenhof said the Level 2 EOC is an indication of the scale of the flooding and how much effort needs to go into solving the problem.
“It’s an indication that the problem really is quite large,” Veenhof said.
The Ministry of Transportation is currently assessing all the affected roads, Veenhof said.
“We don’t know when they will open. Obviously, safety is the top concern. The decision to open those roads will belong to MoTI of course,” Veenhof said.
The RDN issued another update at 4 a.m. stating Melrose Road is accessible through the service road. Around 4:30 a.m., the RDN tweeted that the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was on scene at Melrose and Rumming roads, but crews were waiting for daylight to assess road damage “due to growing sinkhole” on Melrose.
Veenhof said of Melrose Road, there is a “seven-metre piece of it that no longer exists.”
On Saturday, the RDN issued a release from Environment Canada about a special weather statement that would affect the Regional District of Nanaimo and other communities on east Vancouver Island.
It stated the RDN has been notified of “a powerful storm, called an ‘Atmospheric River’” that was approaching the region tonight and will continue Sunday and Monday.
Late Sunday afternoon the B.C. River Forecast Centre upgraded a high streamflow advisory to a flood watch for the Englishman River and other tributaries in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region.
“This storm is expected to result in heavy rain and temperatures above freezing which will melt snow that arrived (Saturday) and which will increase the impact to area rivers, creeks, lakes and storm water drainages,” the release stated.