Flooding caused by an ice jam on the Bulkley River may force some Telkwa residents to evacuate their homes.
An alert was sent out Jan. 24 to people living in three homes along the lower stretch of Bourgon Road, about 6 km east of Telkwa. Residents in those homes were told to be ready for a short-notice evacuation by emergency operations coordinators with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.
Looking at the flooded road a day after the alert, Stoney Stoltenberg, the rural area ‘A’ director, said the water had dropped 10 to 15 centimetres overnight. Hopefully, he said that means that the river ice has shifted to allow more water to flow down the main channel.
“This is a very shallow stretch of the river through here,” Stoltenberg said. “Even during fishing season, it’s not very deep.”
That means chunks of ice can get struck on the river bottom and build up quickly, he added.
Ice jams like the one by Bourgon Road are totally unpredictable, said Stoltenberg.
Unlike more solid lake ice, he explained, the “frazzle ice” that forms in rivers looks more like big globs of snow in the water. That ice is less solid, harder to see, and can shift quickly.
A few years ago, a similar ice jam flooded a home near Eddy Park in Telkwa. Globs of ice lifted the front deck up off the ground and pushed it against the front of the house, he said.
“They had ten inches of water in the house,” he said. “Six minutes later it was gone.”
Residents on Bourgon Road have been advised to listen to their local radio station and watch the RDBN website, www.rdbn.bc.ca, for flood updates.
Those residents are also advised to get in touch with all family members or co-workers and plan to meet at the designated Reception Centre that will open if an evacuation is called.
They should also gather essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable documents (i.e. insurance papers), and immediate care needs for dependents along with any keepsakes they want to protect.
If an evacuation is called and any residents need help to moving family members or co-workers to a safe area, they are advised to phone for transportation help at (250) 692-3195 or 1-800-320-3339.