Saturna Island trails damaged, closed due to rainfall

·2 min read
Tonda Heidtke's Saturna Island home is located at the base of a mudslide, which covered his deck and stairs.  (Courtesy of Tonda Heidtke via Facebook - image credit)
Tonda Heidtke's Saturna Island home is located at the base of a mudslide, which covered his deck and stairs. (Courtesy of Tonda Heidtke via Facebook - image credit)

Areas of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve on Saturna Island are closed due to fallen trees, erosion and other hazards caused by last week's atmospheric river.

Closed areas include Lyall Creek Trail, Narvaez Bay Trail and Campground, Monarch Head Trail, the Mount Warburton Pike and Taylor Point.

The atmospheric river that hit southern B.C. early last week brought historic rainfall that damaged infrastructure, flooded farmlands and washed out major highways.

Superintendent of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Kate Humble said many local school children take the Lyall Creek Trail to get to school. They expect the lower portion of the trail to open in the next few weeks, while the upper part will likely take up to a few months.

"We advise that you stay out of the woods. Tree fall is a really serious concern. We've seen quite a lot of trees come down across trails," she said.

Saturna Island resident Tonda Heidtke was in Victoria when the storm hit on Monday, Nov. 15 and could not return to the island until last Thursday.

"I found my house inundated by mud... The land above mine and [my neighbours' place] gave way so this massive mudslide came down."

Heidtke said there is about six feet of mud on the side of his house closest to the hill.

"As it came down the hillside it looks like it torpedoed a tree through my wall."

Courtesy of Tonda Heidtke via Facebook
Courtesy of Tonda Heidtke via Facebook

Heidtke said the mudslide also took out his deck and stairs, covered his well house, and swept away his motor scooter. His RV is stuck in a few feet of mud.

Heidtke is concerned about the coming storms expected over the weekend and early next week, as the mudslide above his house stands at about 500 feet.

"There's a lot of liquefied mud and fallen trees. It's pretty dangerous, that could easily cover my place," he said.

Another rain storm is expected to hit southern B.C. on Saturday, and a more intense one will land on Tuesday.

"It's heartbreaking. It's my home, it's my safe place, but it's not anymore... I feel kind of lost."

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