‘Tactical evacuation’ gets Chilliwack family out ahead of debris slide

A family on Old Orchard Road had to be evacuated from their home last week — two days before a debris slide came down at the base of Chilliwack Mountain.

A family on Old Orchard Road had to be evacuated from their home last week — two days before a debris slide came down at the base of Chilliwack Mountain.

“We actually evacuated the home last Thursday, before the slide came down on Saturday,” said James Macdonald, emergency coordinator for the City of Chilliwack.

The property owner had previously contacted city officials with concerns about the stability of the hill behind his property in the wake of heavy rainfall.

“We went out and did an investigation, and we felt they were vulnerable where they were,” said MacDonald. “We made a tactical evacuation in the advance of the slide event, so it was a preemptive measure.”

The excessive rain is likely the cause of the debris slide that came down on Jan. 22, but the extent or cost of any property damage is not known.

“It was a debris slide, and involved more than just mud,” said the official.

Geotechnical engineers will be making a formal assessment of the slide and filing a report to the city in due time, MacDonald said.

The family is still out of their damaged home under evacuation order, and after accepting the offer of accommodations for four nights by Emergency Social Services. Neighbours graciously offered support by taking the family into their home since then.

“It’s a property issue now as opposed to a life-saving issue,” he said. “We are continuing to monitor the embankment behind them and we will try to get them back into their home as soon as possible.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com