Jocelyne Gilbert looks down into the deep Newsome Creek gully, which is becoming increasingly unstable. (File Photo)

Evacuation alert lifted, worries persist along unstable South Shuswap creek

Residents of Sorrento’s Caen Road along Newsome Creek fear creek bank will collapse

An evacuation alert for two homes along Newsome Creek in Sorrento has been rescinded, but residents still feel they stand on unstable ground.

The two homes on Caen Road in Sorrento had been on evacuation alert since April. The alert is due to the erosion of the creek banks which the homes sit at the top of. Erosion in the creek bed became accelerated during the extreme freshets of 2017 and 2018, during which residents say the creek deviated from its previous course and began undercutting the creek banks beneath houses there.

Read More: Erosion worries plague homeowners along Newsome Creek in Sorrento

Read More: Engineers find ways to shore up Sorrento’s Newsome Creek

Eleven properties on Caen road were on evacuation alert from May to October 2018.

The current evacuation order, limited to two properties, was rescinded after Westrek Geotechnical services, who have been monitoring the Newsome Creek situation, determined the risk of sudden slope failure due to high water flows has passed for the season.

A notice from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) states that potentially unstable trees along the west bank of the creek remain a significant hazard. The regional district is advising residents to avoid the area five metres from the crest of the bank and monitor the creek for any changes to its flow or the condition of the bank.

Although the engineers have declared conditions temporarily safe, the residents of the properties remain on edge. Jocelyne Gilbert, who lives and operates a hair-cutting business out of one of the properties that had been on evacuation alert, said she feels a solution to the erosion of the banks is still a long way off.

She said the water is still flowing briskly through the creek bed and the places where it is undercutting the bank, including beneath Gilbert’s home, are only getting deeper.

Read More: Summer rain, temperatures in North-Okangan Shuswap close to historic averages

Read More: People’s Party of Canada candidate not given equal voice at Salmon Arm climate strike

Gilbert and a group of her neighbours have been regularly meeting to try to come up with a solution to the erosion of the bank. She said they are currently investigating whether they will be eligible for help through the National Disaster Mitigation Fund.

As a solution that will stabilize the entire creek bed is being investigated, Gilbert is trying to keep her home stable as long as possible. She said she has recently had her deck braced to her house, rather than supported by freestanding posts, out of fear they will be forced to evacuate if erosion undermines the deck supports.

“We’re staying. We’ll go down with the ship,” Gilbert said.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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