PORT HARDY—A major rainstorm that dumped more than 200 millimetres of rain on the West Coast of Vancouver Island earlier this month — stranding four people in the process — has resulted in an unprecedented cleanup of logging roads out of Holberg.
“We had a pretty major event out there, with more than 100 landslides,” said Clint Cadwallader, operations manager for Western Forest Products. “We’ve pretty much completed our assessment; now there will be a joint action plan involving several parties.”
The roads impacted by both landslides and bridge washouts fall under several different jurisdictions, including WFP, BC Timber Sales and the provincial Ministry of Transportation.
All of them have road-building contractors working in the region, in which logging equipment has been working and where some of that equipment is momentarily cut off.
Also cut off from the rest of Vancouver Island for several days were Carol Moffatt of Port Hardy, 57, and three visiting surfers, all of whom were airlifted by a Campbell River search and rescue crew Nov. 9.
They — and three dogs — were taken from the area near the Cape Palmerston rec area after a pair of substantial slides blocked the Ronning Main Line. Their vehicles remain behind, awaiting road clearing by BC Timber Sales contractors.
“We have started working on the two landslides that blocked Ronning Main,” said Mike McCulley of BCTS. “We expect to have those cleared in two weeks, and we have been in contact with the owners of those vehicles.”
Some popular West Coast locations remain accessible to the public. Cadwallader said Cape Scott and San Jo Bay remain accessible, though travellers will need to be aware of active log hauling. But others remain closed off, and some areas face the prospect of being inaccessible for an extended period.
Among the hardest-hit corridors are those leading to Hecht Bay, which is closed to road traffic indefinitely, and Palmerston, where a substantial metal bridge simply washed away just beyond the point where Moffatt and the surfers were left stranded.
“We did lose a significant bridge right at the Palmerston Rec site,” said McCulley. “The province will have to assess that and determine what they’re going to do. We have only been able to see it by helicopter, because we can’t get in there.”
Cadwallader advised visitors to the region to stop in at WFP’s office in Port Hardy or in Holberg to educate themselves on the accessibility and status of roads before venturing to remote West Coast areas.