An adventurous Fernie photographer has captured striking aerial photos of how much Coal Creek has changed course.
Images taken on Nov. 28 show the creek has chewed into its banks and eaten away at Coal Creek Rd in multiple locations, undermined structures at the gun range, and cut the bridge further up the valley.
“Coal Creek Rd is all sorts of screwed up,” said Andrés González of Andres Flyfishing, who took the photos using his drone after riding up the road on his bike.
“Coal Creek decided that the road should go elsewhere.”
The river was a ferocious torrent on November 14-15 when an ‘atmospheric river’ brought massive rainfall to British Columbia.
While the impact of the storm was mild in the Elk Valley compared to the rest of the province where highways will take months to repair, Fernie’s chief administrative officer, Michael Boronowski described Coal Creek as ‘significantly changed’ in the aftermath of the rain.
“Coal Creek has seriously undermined some slopes (and) there are issues,” he said. “There’s a lot of rocks that have moved down and through Coal Creek.”
The city and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) managed to secure $30,000 in emergency funding from the province, with a portion designated for repairs within the city, and the remainder for geotechnical and hydro-technical engineer assessments to determine the extent of damage along Coal Creek, which falls mostly within the RDEK.
Information officer with the RDEK, Loree Duczek, explained that assessments of Coal Creek were still underway.
“We are still in the emergency response phase, as we have been dealing with multiple storms including the one that is anticipated to move through the Valley today through Thursday (Dec. 4). The assessments are complex, even more so given the access issues and ongoing rainfall.”
Duczek said that the exact number of locations where Coal Creek Rd had been damaged were still being determined.
“Once the assessments and recommendations are in from the qualified professionals, we will be working with the City of Fernie and Emergency Management BC on prioritizing repairs.”
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