Swollen river threatens Qualicum Beach campsite

Tiana Dick looked out the window as the rapidly rising Little Qualicum River overflowed its banks Thursday afternoon, flooding Cedar Grove RV Park and Campground in Qualicum Beach.

“It’s going really, really quickly,” Dick said.

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“There’s been a lot of logs shooting down the river. I think the rain has uprooted them from upriver and is shooting them down. So it’s a little bit scary, because a log ran through the owner’s trailer in a previous storm like this.”

The Dashwood Fire Department put the 25 or so year-round campground residents under an evacuation alert, Dick said. “They’re watching the height of the river and they’re going to let us know if we should be evacuated.”

Her mother, Michelle Dick, interim manager of the park, said the campground floods every year with the heavy rain. “We do have some people leaving just out of precaution so a log doesn’t come up and hit the trailers. But so far, the trailers that are here in extended stay are fine,” she said.

Michelle said the logs started shooting down the river with the high tide at 2:50 p.m. “The logs get catapulted up from the bottom of the river,” she said.

“When they hit the stones on the bank of the river, they make a sound like a thunderclap. We’re standing watching things happen and everybody is kind of on high alert.”

Thursday’s heavy rain closed roads and created flooding concerns for communities around Vancouver Island.

The weather was also believed to have been a factor in a three-vehicle afternoon collision on the Patricia Bay Highway, near Mount Newton Cross Road. No one was injured, but southbound traffic was affected.

A mud slide closed Highway 18, which links the Duncan area to Lake Cowichan. A detour was established between Lake Cowichan and Skutz Falls.

Pacific Marine Drive, was closed north of Port Renfrew between Fairy Road and Fairy Lake. A detour was in place.

In Parksville, Martindale Road was shut down in both directions due to considerable flooding between Levirs and Turner roads, about one kilometre north of the city.

Heavy rainfall also resulted in a boil-water notice in the Comox Valley, issued by the Comox Valley Regional District in conjunction with Island Health. The rain raised turbidity levels — caused by an increase in suspended solids — at a back-up pump station to unacceptable levels.

The boil-water notice comes despite new ultraviolet treatment installed in 2018. Still, the treatment has helped to avoid several boil-water notices since it was introduced, the district said.

The notice instructs people to put drinking water through a one-minute rolling boil.

Affected locations include the City of Courtenay, the Town of Comox and the England Road water-service area. Unaffected are Cumberland, Royston or anyone connected to the Black Creek-Oyster Bay water-supply system.

In the capital region, neither Saanich nor Victoria reported significant issues through the afternoon. Victoria has suggested a number of measures for reducing flood risk, including keeping gutters and downspouts free of debris and clearing storm-drain grates that appear to be blocked by leaves.

The River Forecast Centre has issued a high streamflow advisory for B.C.’s south coast and west Vancouver Island. The advisory, which means river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, includes tributaries around Tofino, Bamfield, Port Renfrew and surrounding areas.

The centre is continuing to monitor weather conditions, and at 3:45 p.m., issued flood watches for the Englishman and Little Qualicum rivers. Also added were high streamflow advisories for rivers in south, central and east Vancouver Island.

The south Island advisory applies to the Cowichan, Koksilah and Chemainus rivers.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said the rain has been manageable so far, but problems can arise. A rainfall warning was in effect throughout the day.

“Any time we get high rainfall, we’re concerned about watching the ditches and the roads and clearing drains.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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