Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First Nation Evacuates 700 Residents after Heavy Snowfall in Kitimat

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First Nation Evacuates 700 Residents after Heavy Snowfall in Kitimat

Article excerpt

Kitamaat Village evacuated after snowfall

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KITIMAT, B.C. - A British Columbia First Nation ordered the evacuation of its roughly 700 residents on Sunday, after heavy snowfall in Kitimat knocked out power for days and at least one person had to be airlifted to hospital.

Haisla First Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross called for the evacuation of Kitamaat Village, one of the only areas near the northern B.C. town that remained without power.

Council clerk Teena Grant said about 20 people were staying in the Kitimat Riverlodge Recreation Centre about 15 kilometres north of the village, while the majority were with family and friends in town.

"If you've been without power for a couple days, you've got issues with water freezing," she said. "It was a precaution for the safety of the nation."

The winding road between Kitimat and the village had been closed for days because of snow, downed power lines and fallen trees. A path was cleared between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday to allow a convoy of vehicles to leave.

About 80 per cent of residents were evacuated, but some remained in the Haisla Recreation Centre inside the village, which was opened on Saturday, said Grant.

But later Sunday, the Haisla Nation received word that they may be able to go home sooner than expected. BC Hydro said crews expected to have power restored Sunday night.

The massive blizzard dumped 168 centimetres of snow on Kitimat between 4 p.m. Thursday and 4 a.m. Saturday, knocking out power to more than 5,000 residents -- although most had their power restored within a few days.

The power had been out in the village since 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Restoration was complicated by the fact that the area is remote and forested, and trees were continuing to fall onto power lines, said BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer.

The closure of the road that connects the village to Kitimat meant that a B.C. Ambulance Service helicopter had to be flown in from Terrace to respond to an emergency call from the village at 4:25 p.m. Saturday. …

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