EDITORIAL: Storm event points to fragile infrastructure in some neighbourhoods

EDITORIAL: Storm event points to fragile infrastructure in some neighbourhoods

Many in Chilliwack and surrounding area can be stranded after heavy rain or wind

The aftermath of this past weekend’s extreme weather that hit the Fraser Valley and the entire south coast is a stark reminder of how fragile our infrastructure can be.

What this deluge – by way of a so-called “atmospheric river” – also illustrated is that outside of Chilliwack proper and Sardis, many of the roads in the municipality and in the surrounding regional district areas are singular in nature.

That is, if one road is under water or blocked by power lines or otherwise impassable, people are stuck.

There is stuck and then there is really, really stuck.

When mud and vegetation slid off a steep section of Promontory Road blocking one of the two main routes up to the dense residential area, it was a large inconvenience for residents.

• READ MORE: Promontory Road closed due to a small slide with debris on the road

• READ MORE: Chilliwack saw slides and water pooling from ‘atmospheric river’ of rain

Other events caused by wind or rain or sliding debris caused more severe problems elsewhere.

We saw hundreds of people stranded at Sasquatch Mountain Resort, some for days, as a stretch of Hemlock Valley Road washed away.

Trees down across power lines forced Vedder Road to be closed just north of the roundabout by the Vedder Bridge, leaving Chilliwack River Valley and Cultus Lake residents to be forced to make a major detour, and a landslide briefly closed the Columbia Valley Highway next to Cultus Lake by the Teapot Hill trailhead on Saturday.

In the Columbia Valley we saw some residents unable to use their driveways due to the nearly perennial flooding on Maple Valley Road.

• READ MORE: Maple Falls Road residents fed up with localized flooding

We live in a beautiful area of the world, but with so few ways to access many of our most sought-after neighbourhoods and communities, people may increasingly have to learn to become more self-sufficient.

If climate change truly means we will see more extreme weather events, then Chilliwack and the surrounding communities will see more frequent power outages, road blockages, and flooding.

This will require more and better planning and response from all three levels of government. Maybe it also points to the need for everyone who lives in neighbourhoods tethered to the city by ever-more fragile roads to learn more self-sufficient, off-grid living techniques before the next inevitable storm hits.

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