An eyewitness to the flooding that destroyed a large section of Ootsa Nadina Road during the onset of the spring melt has described his experience to the Lakes District News.
Wes Böhmer was keeping an eye on the flooded section of Ootsa Nadina Road, near the 12 km mark, when the wreckage occurred, in the early hours of Sunday, April 30.
Böhmer was on safety watch, making sure that no vehicles tried to cross the ill-fated stretch.
He works part-time for Lakes District Maintenance (LDM), the firm responsible for highway maintenance in the region.
The flooding worsened around midnight, said Böhmer. And a short while later, the ground began to shift.
Deluge filled the ravine
It was 2:25 a.m. on April 30 when the road washed away completely, said Böhmer.
“I checked my watch, in case someone asked,” he said.
Moments earlier, there was about eight inches of water on the road.
The current was eroding the highway from below, and it soon began washing away the surface as far as the centre line.
From there, it was only 15 minutes before the whole stretch was destroyed by the fast-moving water, leaving a chasm that measured 24 metres across and 7.5 metres deep.
“It moved a lot of water in a hurry,” he said, adding that the deluge soon filled most of the ravine downstream from the road.
“You could hear the bells ring”
He compared the roar of water filling the ravine to that of a 10-metre waterfall on Surel Creek, in Tweedsmuir Park.
The sound was also akin to water rushing through the Skins Spillway on the Nechako Reservoir.
“It’s an awful roar, a racket as the water leaves the lake,” he said of the spillway.
And there was another, more curious sound. Water had covered the branches of trees that had been soaked in water, creating icicles as the water receded.
“All these trees had hanging icicles on them,” he said. The wind blew and the icicles tinkled.
“As you stood there, you could hear the bells ring,” said Böhmer.
After sunrise, Böhmer photographed a moose crossing the road near the destroyed section of road.
“It was the first local resident on the scene,” said Böhmer, who lives at Takysie Lake, about 15 km from the site of the wash out.
Repairs in progress
Meanwhile, LDM has reported that repairs are ongoing. Crews were laying the foundation for new culverts by May 14, according to LDM’s Twitter feed.
The company reported on the morning of May 18 that single-lane traffic would open on Ootsa Nadina Road later that day.
Ootso Nadina km 12 washout is scheduled to open for single lane traffic later this afternoon. Signage and traffic lights will be in place, please drive with care as construction will be ongoing.
— LDM Lakes (@LDMLakes) May 18, 2018