A chopper is shown dropping water on the eastern slopes of Zeballos on Aug. 17. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Slope instability leads to extended evacuation order in Zeballos

Residents still displaced after wildfires lead to risk of falling debris and slides

The Village of Zeballos has extended an evacuation order and a state of local emergency due to continued slope instability in the tiny coastal settlement.

But some residents are ignoring the evacuation order because they don’t have anywhere else to go, according to Zeballos Emergency Program Coordinator Mike Atchison.

“They’ve gone home at their own risk,” Atchison said. “One family was living in a travel trailer, and it’s just too cold to live in there during the winter, so they’ve been forced to go home.”

READ MORE: Evacuees say the BC Wildfire Service should have responded faster to Zeballos flare-up

He said there’s a shortage of housing for people displaced by the evacuation order in Zeballos.

“We don’t have a huge selection of empty homes that we can put families in to get them through the winter,” Atchison said.

The order applies to 15 homes, along with a hotel and a number of vacant lots. There are 21 people affected, according to village staff.

Atchison said that some people have simply left the village due to the evacuation order.

“I know there’s lots of people that were here that had to move their families,” he said.

People are continuing to receive support from the provincial Emergency Social Services (ESS) program, Atchison said.

Those services – which include food, lodging, clothes and other forms of support – are available to people forced from their homes by fires, floods, earthquakes and other emergencies, according to a government website.

The services are normally available for 72 hours after an emergency, but the province has extended ESS support “for an undetermined length of time,” according to Justin Janisse, a village councillor.

“This has been known to be helpful to families in need for up to a year and is situational,” Janisse said in a Facebook message to Black Press.

Council extended the state of local emergency and evacuation order during a Nov. 27 meeting after receiving legal advice on the matter, Atchison said.

“If they were to lift the state of local emergency and let the people back in knowing that there’s still a risk, they would be liable,” he said.

READ MORE: 2018 B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

The village wants the province to monitor the mountainside and conduct a study into the integrity of the slope, so that the village can decide whether people can return to their homes, Atchison said.

In mid-August, the village ordered the evacuation of six homes due to the risk of falling debris during a wildfire that eventually engulfed an estimated 128 hectares and filled the air with smoke.

When rains quenched the fires in September, the village expanded the evacuation order due to the risk of falling debris or slides.

A report released in October by the consulting firm BGC Engineering stated that wildfires led to a roughly tenfold increase in “debris flow and rock fall probability” on the steep eastern slopes of the remote logging village.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Northbound lanes open 20 minutes at a time on Malahat after small rockslide

Traffic backed up from Goldstream, clean-up crews on site

Kris Kringle Craft Market making its return to Nanaimo

Self-taught craftspeople join trained artisans at seasonal sale Nov. 21-24 at Beban Park

Idea of free student bus passes will come to Regional District of Nanaimo board table

Tyler Brown, RDN transit committee chairman, hopes to explore fully subsidized bus passes for youths

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Neighbourhood around supportive housing disrespected

Supreme Court’s ruling a mean-spirited example of establishment versus the people, says letter writer

Nanaimo school district starting from scratch on testing water for lead

Health Canada changed acceptable levels to 0.005 mg/L in March, prompting re-testing at schools

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

Fisherman missing near Lake Cowichan’s Shaw Creek

Family is asking for everyone and anyone to keep their eyes open,… Continue reading

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read