Power has been restored to Sasquatch Mountain Resort more than 36 hours after hundreds of people were trapped on the B.C. ski hill due to a landslide and washout.
The landslide came down Friday night on Hemlock Valley Road, washing away a section of the only access route to and from the ski resort. Power has also been lost at the resort, which could also be due to the slide.
The Ministry of Transportation says it could take up to five days to restore just a single lane of traffic on the road, and is telling people to stay at the resort until then.
Concerns about having enough food and supplies to last that long are starting to fade, however, as resort staff and volunteers create a supply chain.
“I think we’re going to be OK,” local volunteer firefighter Jim Briar said.
“There’s a lot of need up here for food … but we got the power back a lot earlier than expected. So that’s alleviated a lot of fears.”
Power was restored around 2:45 p.m. after BC Hydro crews flew over the site of the landslide to determine the source of the problem. The utility said no problem was identified, and were able to access the site on foot to turn the power back on.
Resort spokesperson Shelby Lim says three helicopters have been contracted to fly guests off the mountain, and have taken more than 200 people so far. She anticipates the majority of guests will be back home by Monday.
Those same helicopters are being used to transport food and supplies back up as needed, along with propane for the backup generators used to power the main lodge and cabins.
“If anybody is running out of anything, we’re here to help and assist,” Lim said. “We’ve got lots of food up here, the helicopter companies are able to bring in more fuel.
“Anybody who lives on the mountain, if they need medicine, diapers, dog food, anything, we can get back to them and help them.”
Lim said notices have been posted around the resort and online telling people to bring any requests for supplies to the guest services team.
Having power back means residents and guests can cook their own food at their cabins and homes, which have also had heat restored, Lim explained.
While the cafeteria and pub at the resort are serving food, people are still being charged for those meals, though Lim says staff discounts are being applied.
Brian says he doesn’t blame the resort for covering its costs but adds the true test will be how to keep people fed and supplied in the days ahead.
“There’s 50, 60 of us who live up here year-round,” he said. “People who come up here, they don’t stock up on supplies like that, they just bring enough for the weekend.
“This is definitely a learning experience.”
Meanwhile, those looking to get off the mountain have to pay $150 each to earn a seat on one of the helicopters, which Brian says will add up quickly for families.
“There are people up here with medical conditions and … important medical appointments, and to charge them $150 to get off the mountain?” he said.
“I understand it’s no slam against anybody, but I’m wondering what the provincial emergency program is doing, or if they are doing anything, to accommodate these problems.”
Global News has reached out to Emergency Management BC for comment on how the province is helping with sending supplies up the mountain and potentially covering the costs of those helicopter trips.
One mother paid full price to get herself and her three children off the mountain, but says she has no regrets.
“Best $600 I’ve ever spent,” she said at the Chilliwack airport where helicopters were dropping off passengers.
In the meantime, Lim assured that resort staff is doing everything they can to manage the situation as they wait for the road to be cleared.
“No one is going to starve, no one is going to freeze,” she said. “Supplies can be brought in as needed.
“We’re not in a state of panic here for guests trying to get off the mountain.”
—With files from Grace Ke