A Klee Cho Aviation B206 sits at the Dease Lake Airport on April 18 before moving passengers and supplies to Telegraph Creek. (Submitted Photo/ Mark Wheatley)

A Klee Cho Aviation B206 sits at the Dease Lake Airport on April 18 before moving passengers and supplies to Telegraph Creek. (Submitted Photo/ Mark Wheatley)

Helicopters deliver food, supplies to northern B.C. community after road closure

Road is expected to re-open by the end of April

It’s been almost 10 days since those in Telegraph Creek were cut off from road access to the rest of northern B.C. due to a washout – sparking donated resources from companies in the area.

Several mining companies have donated helicopter flights to help keep the isolated community supplied while the main washout and other localized slides and creek breaches are dealt with.

“We truly appreciate it, our people truly appreciate it,” said Tahltan Band Chief Carmen McPhee. “We don’t have road access but everybody’s morale is still up and our people are still happy.”

Newcrest Mining Ltd. donated passenger, fuel and grocery flights using two helicopters from Klee Cho Aviation Inc., a Tahltan-held joint venture with Yellowhead Helicopters. Skeena Resources used Silver King Helicopters Inc. to transport fuel to the community.

Newmont Corporation has hired Alkan Air to transport groceries, medicine and mail by fixed wing aircraft next week.

Wet conditions, coupled with a lack of vegetation due to wildfires in 2018, have created the perfect recipe for washouts and slides.

A spell of warm weather in the area has been quickly melting the heavy snowpack. In 2018, wildfires burned around 120,000 hectares in the area, meaning that there is little foliage to slow the movement of melting snow and water.

“It’s not common to be be this bad, the forest fire did do a lot of damage, there’s no vegetation, there’s no trees that are able to be able to soak up all this extra water.” McPhee said.

Since the washout, there have been instances of other localized slides and creek breaches daily, including a slide in Telegraph Creek itself, blocking access to some residences which are not currently occupied.

Residents of Telegraph Creek were already hauling snow out of the community to mitigate risks before the washout happened. Three excavators and three gravel trucks were already on the Telegraph Creek side of the washout, which McPhee said was fortunate because they are able to keep working on the slides in and around the community.

According to McPhee, the road could re-open by Monday, April 26, but that is an optimistic timeline. She said that the worst-case scenario for the road to re-open is the end of the month, but the situation is changing daily.

READ MORE: Telegraph Creek Road washed out, no timetable to re-open


@BenBogstie
ben.bogstie@terracestandard.com

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