ZEBALLOS, BC – Eight months is a long time to be under an evacuation order and to be away from home.
Now that the evacuation order has been lifted for several properties in the Village of Zeballos, some residents still feel it is unsafe to return.
Ernie Smith has two homes in the village. One is for his family, and the other they rent out. The Smiths’ main home is one of the twenty homes deemed safe to return to. The rental home is still under evacuation.
Smith said they’ve been told the evacuation order for the remaining five properties will be lifted by June 1st.
“It’s not being lifted because it’s safe. It’s being lifted because time ran out, and there’s no more funding available for emergency services,” he said.
“Once the order is lifted, (the owners) of the remaining houses have to make up their minds whether to move back into their places or not.”
For Smith’s family, they are comfortable enough to move back into their main home, but not completely safe as there is still a risk to the village. He said they will not be renting out their other property as long as they feel it isn’t completely safe.
According to the BGC Engineering report, there is residual risk of landslides or debris flow, even for the homes no longer under the evacuation order. Smith added that when rains come, they may have to leave Zeballos for a few days in case of a landslide.
“It’s just not 100% positive it’s going to be safe there.”
The engineering report recommended mitigation options, and Smith said village staff is working with Emergency Management BC (EMBC) to see what will be a good fit for Zeballos.
He said this may include rockfall fencing, which aims to stop rocks from falling into the village. Smith said another option was a debris flow barrier, which would redirect debris flow away from the homes.
In all, he hopes the province will take action.
“Hopefully, the government is going to come through to help with something, but we don’t know yet.”