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Naramata woman narrowly dodges landslide in her backyard

The slide downed one tree and uprooted several bushes, leaving piles of mud in the street out front
Naramata homeowner Lynn Maw points to the retainer wall, which she had to jump over to dodge a mudslide in her backyard. The mud at the back of the property, she said, is two or three feet higher than it had been before the slide. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

While working in her yard on Saturday, a Naramata resident found herself dodging water, mud and rocks that burst from the hill behind her house after a quarry above became too heavy with water.

Four days later, Lynn Maw and her neighbours are still cleaning up the mud that filled her driveway and the street in front of her house. The slide was so powerful, Maw said she was not sure at the time she would be around to talk about it if she didn’t hop over the retaining wall between her house and the hill.

At least one downed tree and several bushes were uprooted in the slide. In the hill behind Naramata homeowner Lynn Maw's house, a crater can be seen where earth was pushed from its place by an overloaded quarry, travelling dozens of metres into the street.

Dustin Godfrey/Western News

“It looks like a little bit, but the mountainside came down the hill,” Maw said Tuesday afternoon.

Her driveway was spotless before the slide, but even four days of cleaning later from Maw, her husband and her friends, that driveway is covered in dried mud. In front of the house, the stream of mud is still thick, and the water is still running from the hill into the street.

Behind Maw’s house, a crater is still visible from the slide, which downed a pine tree in the process.

“That’s what I was worried about is that the tree was going to come down root first, or even the other way, and you wouldn’t have a chance if you were standing there,” she said.

Maw was able to hop the retaining wall, which stands a couple of feet above the ground, and even without the tree, she said she would have been washed out into the street with the slide.

“I didn’t know how much was coming down anyway. And when you start seeing earth and the hillside coming down at you with trees, I just knew that the only safe place to go was to get behind my retaining wall,” she said. “I’m over 59 and to jump six feet over and down, land on my feet and run in my house.”

When she got to her porch, she said she heard a loud, rushing noise as the ground broke loose and the side of the hill caved into the mudslide.

Four days after the slide, the street in front of Lynn Maw's house is still covered in mud after it burst from its place in the hill behind Maw's house. Maw said she dodged the slide by jumping over her retaining wall.

Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Maw said she used to hike up that hill in the summer, but with the snowpack as deep as it is up in the hills — about 152 per cent of normal — she is worried about seeing more slides in the future.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s Cameron Baughen, with the emergency operations centre, said the regional district was made aware of the slide when it happened, and the Naramata Volunteer Fire Department assisted with removing debris at the time.

For the most part, Baughen said RDOS went up to make sure it had nothing to do with the regional district’s water lines that provide water to the community, which it did not. In fact, it was caused by an overflow in a quarry on private property above Maw’s house, Baughen said.

But he noted landslides are to be expected for the coming months with all of the precipitation in the region of late.

“We’re in an emergency right now,” he said.

“The water’s getting so high now that it’s a real problem in terms of snowpack coming down and affecting what’s already flooding conditions. These soil slides and some rockslides that we’re seeing now have occurred all spring, and we expect them to continue to occur,” he added, noting it will likely get worse before it gets better.

“This is probably going to be a long, several month-long condition in the regional district of potential slide, potential mud movements.”

More information about flooding and landslides and preparing for those incidents can be found at the RDOS website.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter
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