People from the Lower Mainland who have been stranded in the Sunshine Valley are taking a step towards home this afternoon (Nov. 18).
Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department (SVVFD) Chief Chris Terry said that a convoy is leaving the area around 2 p.m., bringing 54 people to Hope.
Terry said the route the convoy will take has been cleared and SVVFD will be escorting vehicles down to Hope. After that, all that will remain are transport trucks that Terry expects will be cleared out over the weekend.
“We’ve got some eastbound vehicles that could be here for another few days yet,” he added. “We have opened up our reception area (at Holiday Trails Resort) for anybody who’s really stuck in Hope and wants to head east. If we can flush out some of the people who are going to the Lower Mainland with this convoy, then we could take any stranded travelers from Hope who are heading east. They can come this far and we can look after them here.”
Terry said it has been snowing in the Sunshine Valley, “just to add to the chaos out here.”
“We had a couple flooded roads, but we’ve cleared those up,” he noted. “We’re lucky to have a lot of our own equipment. Year round we’re dealing with snow, so we have to have ploughs and other machinery. We managed to do a lot of the work ourselves so we didn’t have to wait and we didn’t have to tie up highway crews.”
It’s been a challenging few days in the Sunshine Valley.
Terry said the potable drinking water was knocked out for 48 to 72 hours, but it’s back up now.
In the interim, people have relied on bottled water and a nearby well.
“It’s not unusual for us to be cut off for two to three days here, so a lot of this is things we’re used to handling,” Terry observed.
Travelers have been served three meals a day by a hard-working team of kitchen staff, cooking up food donated by the community.
“We’re probably going to run out by the end of day today,” Terry said. “But we’ve got supplies waiting for us in Hope. The idea will be to convoy people down and bring those supplies back.”
Morale is high among travelers and Sunshine Valley residents, and Terry said that with power back on and the water system up and running, they’re just about “back to square one.”
“The people doing the helping are getting a little bit tired, but it looks like we might be getting a little bit of a break now,” he said. “And the people who’ve been stranded here have been awesome. Everybody wants to go home and we understand that, but they completely understand that until it’s safe, they can’t. It’s as simple as that.”