ZEBALLOS, B.C- Evacuated residents of a small North Island village are still waiting to know whether or not they can go home.
During the summer, some residents of the village of Zeballos were evacuated, due to the threat posed by a wildfire burning in the hills that overlook the community. After the fire was brought under control, residents then had to deal with an evacuation order due to landslide risks on September 8th.
It is not uncommon for slopes of the type seen above Zeballos to be at risk from landslides, particularly with the wet and windy environment that is typical of the area around the village.
At the time of the evacuation order, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development were studying the slopes to figure out the landslide risk, after the damages brought by the fire.
A detailed Post-Wildfire Natural Hazards Assessment would be key to determining that risk and, the final decision for when people can return to their homes will be up to the Village of Zeballos.
Once village staff and council receive the slope assessment, they will have some knowledge to base their decisions on, regarding next steps.
Some of the evacuees are staying with family or friends outside of the evacuation zone while others have left the village completely until they get the go-ahead to return to their homes.
The village has now made a brief report from the province about the threat available, which also shows which slopes have sustained the most damage from the fire. It was posted to their website on Thursday.
A part of the village’s access road is directly below one of the most damaged sites, while the exact mitigation efforts that could be undertaken have not yet been outlined by the province.
According to Meredith Starkey, the village’s CAO, the interim report is meant to give residents more information, while the village waits for the final report.
“This is more of a giving you some information, as little as we have, even recognizing it’s preliminary, just so people have some understanding of the challenge that we’re grappling with,” said Starkey.
She said they had been hoping to get the final report earlier in the week, but there is no firm timeline for when that would be released. In the meantime, they’re hoping to organize a meeting between the provincial authourities, the village, and evacuees, in order for everyone to work together.
The report can be found via this link: http://www.zeballos.com/Zeballos2016/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Preliminary-Post-Fire-Risk-Analysis-V82441-Gold-Valley-Main-Fire_.pdf
-with files from Troy Landreville