AGASSIZ (NEWS 1130) — Rescue efforts continue after a weekend landslide left hundreds stranded at the Sasquatch Mountain Resort near Agassiz.
Hemlock Valley has been cleared enough for single-lane traffic out of the area. Now, the Ministry of Transportation is providing a pilot car to escort 175 vehicles out of the area in their own vehicles, one of them being Kyle Shackley.
“Everyone’s own vehicles one way out and this is designed to be an exit,” he says. “They’ll be actually driving along with us, sort of like in a caravan single lane.”
Shackley recently bought a cabin on the mountain and spent most of the weekend without power after he organized a boys’ getaway weekend for some of his friends.
“So, I was here first and then the rest of the crew all arrived except one guy. There was going to be seven of us total when the actual slide happened, then the power went out and then, meanwhile, our other friend who was driving in from Kelowna, when he got to the base of the mountain, he was one of the first people that saw the slide,” he tells NEWS 1130.
A local state of emergency for the area is still in effect.
Concerns have also been raised about whether people who paid for a helicopter ride out of the area will be reimbursed by Emergency Management BC.
Senior Regional Manager at Emergency Management BC Ian Cunnings says since there was never an evacuation order, it isn’t entitled to reimburse anyone.
“So there was no immediate need or life-safety need to evacuate people and as with the evacuation process in British Columbia, shelter in place is one of the options. In that case, this was one the safest options that the guests and the residents on the hill took,” he says, adding they into if any needs were not met.
However, he commends the resort for the actions they took for their guests to leave. About 250 people were charged $150 each for the ride.
Local MLA Laurie Throness argues all those costs should be covered by Emergency Management BC.
“It’s a provincial responsibility to provide reimbursement to evacuees or to evacuate them without charge. We help people in BC who are in trouble.”
The cleanup is expected to take weeks thanks to numerous road closures linked to heavy rainfall in the area.
With files from Tim James