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Heavy rain prompts Evacuation ALERT in Fairmont Hot Springs

An Evacuation ALERT has been issued for 229 properties in the Fairmont Hot Springs area following intense rainfall since Sunday.

The order has been issued for properties around Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek.

“The prolonged, steady rain has resulted in an increase in water flow and sedimentation in both Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek, which has filled our upper debris basins on both systems to near capacity,” said Loree Duczek, Information Officer with the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK). “As a result of this reduced capacity, and with the forecast of more rain and thunderstorm activity this week, we have issued the evacuation alert out of an abundance of caution and to give people time to prepare to leave on a moment’s notice should conditions worsen.”

The RDEK said the ALERT has been issued to ensure residents are aware of the potential danger in the area and be ready to leave if an evacuation ORDER is issued.

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“Now is the time for people to put together a grab and go kit that they have ready by the door, so that in the event they are asked to evacuate, they are ready to go,” explained Duczek. “Important papers (like insurance papers), medications, valuables, supplies for children and pets, photos or hard drives are all examples of things that can be included.”

According to the RDEK, its weather station in the Fairmont area recorded nearly 44 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours between Sunday morning and Monday morning. The regional district said this is a 1-in-25-year rainfall event.

As of Monday evening, the creeks have not flowed over their banks, but there is concern that the upper debris flow traps have been filled close or fully to capacity.

With more rain to come in this week’s forecast, the RDEK said there is potential for additional sedimentation and debris flooding or a debris flow as a result.

A state of local emergency has also been declared as part of the RDEK’s response to the localized flooding.

A crew with the RDEK has been on-site to monitor both Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek. Mainroad East Kootenay has also been in the area checking on its culverts, which are flowing freely as of Monday evening.

The RDEK said it is in discussions with its geotechnical professionals to determine when it will be safe to remove the accumulated debris and restore the system’s capacity.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the Evacuation Notification System if they have not already.

“Once people are signed up, they will be directly alerted in the event of evacuation orders or alerts affecting their area. It’s a free system and is easy to sign up for. Details can be found on our website,” said Duczek.

A map depicting the area under evacuation ALERT around Fairmont Creek as of May 24, 2021. (Supplied by the RDEK)
A map depicting the area under evacuation ALERT around Cold Spring Creek as of May 24,2021. (Supplied by the RDEK)
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