Mission Creek floodwaters cause damage to this abandoned Joe Rich house near the Mission Creek Bridge on Highway 33.

UPDATE: Local State of Emergency declared for Joe Rich property

Because of concerns a building could be swept into the Highway 33 bridge over Mission Creek, a local State of Emergency is declared.

  • Jun. 21, 2013 5:00 a.m.

At the request of Emergency Management B.C., the Central Okanagan Regional District has declared a Local State of Emergency in order to protect critical infrastructure along Mission Creek in the Joe Rich area of the Central Okanagan East Electoral Area.

In the interest of public safety, the regional district has complied with the request and declared the Local State of Emergency affecting a property in the 11200 block of Highway 33 east.

The declaration allows the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to access a property near Mission Creek and the Highway 33 bridge crossing the creek, in order to demolish and remove remaining structures on the property.

The remaining vacant residential building on the property is at imminent risk to be swept into Mission Creek and poses a threat to critical provincial infrastructure, according to EMBC.

Earlier this week, as a result of heavy rains, several trailers on the property were swept downstream into the nearby bridge along Highway 33.  They were removed by the ministry.

The trailers had broken away—with the help of the overflowing Mission Creek—from a rural property that has been hit by flooding problems in the past.

The property, located at 11250 Highway 33 near the Mission Creek bridge, has been abandoned for close to two years and currently is not hooked up to any services.

The house is owned by Verdell Muttit, and has raised concerns in past years when the creek has jumped over its natural banks. It’s a problem many Joe Rich residents would like to see resolved.

“We are aware of the situation, but because the house has essentially been abandoned and has no services, it has not been deemed an emergency,” said Bruce Smith, CORD spokesperson.

“It’s located on the north side of Highway 33 alongside the creek, which runs past the property and underneath the bridge.”

About this same time last year, the valley was hit by about 50 millimetres of rain and the creek flooded over the property, causing flooding damage.  At that time, Muttit had no flood insurance and had been attempting to sell the property, something she is still trying to do today.

Last year, she told CTV news that provincial officials had offered her “vague assurances” that steps would be taken to prevent further flood damage, but to date nothing else has been done on the property.

“They said it was a top priority, but what does that mean? I don’t know,” she said. “Nobody has said what they’re going to do. Everybody says, ‘You know it’s an emergency, you’ve got to wait until the water is down,’ but it’s getting worse and worse.”

A transportation ministry spokesperson said work crews were busy Friday morning attempting to dislodge a trailer that had floated away from Muttit’s property and become stuck under the centre pier of the bridge.

“This will ensure that any possible further debris coming downstream does not accumulate by the trailer,” said a ministry spokesperson.

But local residents are concerned that ongoing flooding issues will cause other outbuildings or parts of the main house to start breaking away, meaning further disruption to the flow of bridge traffic and the stream itself.

That further damage to Muttit’s property occurred, added Smith, was not surprising as the peak flow rate of Mission Creek on Thursday was 90 cubic metres per second, up from the previous high of 70 earlier this spring.

“You can just imagine what would have happened if we still had significant snowmelt at the higher elevations,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, a nine kilometre section of the Mission Creek Greenway is open again.

The stretch between the Hollywood Road south parking lot entrance to Scenic Canyon Regional Park and the Field Road parking area near Gallagher’s Canyon was closed on Thursday due to high creek flow and floating debris.

“While the creek is still flowing fast, water levels have dropped allowing our parks services staff to check the entire length of the second phase of the Greenway recreational trail,” Smith said.

“Luckily, damage from the flooding was minor, just some trail washouts. Repairs have been made and the trail conditions are safe again for public use.”

Smith said the Greenway trail underpass remains closed at the Casorso Road bridge and on the south side of the Gordon Drive bridge as crews need more time to remove debris from the creek. 

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