‘It’s closed for your safety’: RCMP ask residents to stay off Highway 20 from Bella Coola to 4 Mile

Bella Coola RCMP are asking residents in the valley to respect local road closures for their own safety Saturday morning, Nov. 28 as emergency crews clean up from a powerful winter storm. (RCMP Const. Rossi photo)Bella Coola RCMP are asking residents in the valley to respect local road closures for their own safety Saturday morning, Nov. 28 as emergency crews clean up from a powerful winter storm. (RCMP Const. Rossi photo)
Falling rocks and trees are some of the hazards facing crews on a closed section of Highway 20 at Bella Coola. (Conservation Officer Service officer )Falling rocks and trees are some of the hazards facing crews on a closed section of Highway 20 at Bella Coola. (Conservation Officer Service officer )
A heavy snowfall in Bella Coola Friday resulted in trees on power lines and the closure of 4 mile road to downtown. (Roger Harris photo)A heavy snowfall in Bella Coola Friday resulted in trees on power lines and the closure of 4 mile road to downtown. (Roger Harris photo)
Dawson Road Maintenance foreman’s truck was covered in snow at the end of the shift Friday, Nov. 27 at Anahim Lake, B.C. (Dawson Maintenance photo)Dawson Road Maintenance foreman’s truck was covered in snow at the end of the shift Friday, Nov. 27 at Anahim Lake, B.C. (Dawson Maintenance photo)
The Bella Coola RCMP closed the road from 4 mile to downtown Bella Coola because of the conditions Friday. (Roger Harris photo)The Bella Coola RCMP closed the road from 4 mile to downtown Bella Coola because of the conditions Friday. (Roger Harris photo)
A member of Ulkatcho First Nation measures the snow on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 showing that more than 60 cm of snow has fallen since a snowfall warning went into effect for northern portions of the Chilcotin on Thursday.A member of Ulkatcho First Nation measures the snow on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 showing that more than 60 cm of snow has fallen since a snowfall warning went into effect for northern portions of the Chilcotin on Thursday.

BC Hydro and Dawson Road Maintenance crews continue to clean up after a winter storm pummelled parts of the Chilcotin and the Bella Coola Valley Friday, Nov. 27.

While power is back on to many residents in the valley, Bella Coola itself and the 4 Mile Subdivision remains largely in the dark. Sgt. Richard Marshall of the Bella Coola RCMP is urging residents to stay off Highway 20 between Bella Coola and 4 Mile Subdivision as hydro and road crews work to make the area safe.

“It’s closed for a reason — for everyone’s safety,” said Marshall, one of many emergency responders who worked through the night after the winter storm dumped about two feet of heavy snow over the valley.

Marshall said a falling tree narrowly missed his police cruiser while he was out patrolling Highway 20 Friday, while a tree did fall on a grader trying to clear the road. Fortunately there were no major incidents, he said.

“RCMP and emergency responders are working together to ensure proper emergency services are available to the community,” Marshall said, crediting Emergency Health Services who responded to one call Friday night, as well as BC Hydro and Dawson Road Maintenance crews for their ongoing, heroic efforts.

“It’s amazing what they do.”

Conservation officer Hana Anderson has also been assisting during the storm, providing traffic control for the RCMP. One bright side to the snow, she hopes, is that it will push the grizzly bears to den for the winter. This year has been particularly difficult for problem bears with a total of four grizzly bears having to be destroyed due to aggressive, or habituated behaviour.

Highway 20 remains closed from Anahim to Bella Coola with no detour available because of downed hydro lines for a 138 km stretch. DriveBC will update at 2 p.m.

A travel advisory also remains in effect for 98 km between Anahim Lake and Tatlayoko road as of Saturday morning that will be updated at 10 a.m. by DriveBC.

Ulkatcho First Nation residents measured more than 64 cm of snow that fell at their community Friday while the Bella Coola area received 89 mm of snow and rain.

More than 900 customers were without power in the Bella Coola Valley Friday and as of Saturday morning there are around 450 customers still without power there.

Read more: VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

A snowfall warning from Environment Canada is no longer in effect for Bella Coola where it is now zero Celsius and drizzling.

“It is a lot nicer today,” Nuxalk First Nation member Roger Harris told Black Press Saturday. “Yesterday we were pretty busy standing outside for about seven hours turning people around because of the trees being down. We didn’t want anyone trapped in that area.”

Harris said he was joined by Wally Webber and Orden Mack who were helping him turn drivers around.

Environment Canada noted it is also zero degrees Celsius in the Tatlayoko Lake area and sunshine is in the forecast there.



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