The community of Oasis is rallying behind a family who has been evacuated from their home.
A Go Fund Me account, “A Trail Family’s Devastation,” was just set up for Trevor and Shari Young by friends to help alleviate some financial stress, as the family pays for a rental and a mortgage on a home that is deemed unsafe to live in.
The online fundraising initiative has quickly garnered interest from the community with over $5,000 already donated toward the $7,000 goal.
“A huge and emotional thank you from our family to everyone showing such kindness,” Shari Young noted on the website. “There are no words to express our gratitude.”
The Young family was told to leave their property March 24, following a geotechnical assessment of their Hanna Drive home, which was showing signs of soil erosion and a shifting and cracking foundation. Canadian Red Cross stepped in and put the couple and their children up in a hotel for five nights until they could secure short-term accommodation in a local guest house.
“Insurance won’t kick in for us because our plan doesn’t cover ground water,” said Young. “We were told this is very typical by an insurance agent, who was unaware of any insurance packages that cover ground water damage.”
The family is awaiting any further support following a community meeting late last month that not only looked at the Young property but drainage in Oasis. They are also expecting a proposal from a geotechnical engineer, which will determine whether home repairs are feasible.
“Before we make any permanent decisions as of right now we’re just kind of waiting out the month and trying to seek a rental fitting for our family starting in May,” she said.
The couple’s backyard has visibly sunk over the 11 years they’ve owned their home, but the dramatic increase in water this past year kept the family awake at night. Sounds of creaking and cracking were heard in the dull of night and with daylight came visible evidence of ground water damage.
A chunk of their lower property sloughed off the bank last year, prompting the Youngs to build retaining walls that over time also appeared to be sinking into soft, eroding soil.
More recently, the couple noticed a large willow tree in their backyard slope to a 30-degree angle practically overnight, which prompted Area B director Linda Worley to alert the Emergency Operation Centre in Trail at the beginning of March to determine appropriate action.
A quick study by a geomorphologist didn’t report imminent danger, but a follow up with a geotechnical assessment was immediately suggested.
After taking such advice, a report to follow recommended the Youngs’ place was at “ground zero” and an evacuation was suggested. Should anything happen to their unstable property, their neighbour’s property could have a 50 per cent chance of going down too, a report on their neighbour’s property indicated.
“We weren’t surprised,” said Young.
“There were a few sources that (suggested) an emergency situation wasn’t the case, and we felt differently all along so that notice of evacuation was devastating but it kind of confirmed our feeling.”
MLA Katrine Conroy, senior Regional District of Kootenay Boundary staff, and members of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) joined Worley in addressing concerns about the sloughing shoulder along Hillcrest Drive, saturated properties on and around Hanna Drive and a culvert on Oasis Crescent at the recent town hall meeting.
“It almost seemed like it was taken fairly lightly even though homes and lives were at risk,” added Young.
“That’s kind of the feeling that I got from the meeting that the problems didn’t quite fit into anybody’s box of responsibilities, so I’m hoping they (ministry and regional district) can reach out further to somebody who might be able to help because there are homes that can be saved still.”
While Oasis is a notably damp community, neighbours are not satisfied with attributing sinkholes, eroding soil and shifting foundation to spring runoff.
The community of Oasis has asked the regional district to build a case on developing a drainage service, which would not be implemented or even fully examined until a referendum resulted in the majority of electors voting for the service.
“Something somewhere diverted water in the area that normally would take a different path, and now it seems to be affecting homes, not just the Youngs,’ but there are sinkholes along Hanna Drive that were never there before that are appearing through water building under the surface,” Worley previously told the Trail Times.
“If a hydrologist report could prove that someone diverted water somewhere along the way or something was altered through services, if that can be proven, there may be a chance of some support if work has to be done by those government entities to correct something they did.”
After MOTI confirmed that a portion of a blocked culvert on Oasis Crescent was clear of any obstructions on their end, residents decided to dig up part of it that extended onto private property to restore flow.
The ministry’s contractor, Emcon Services, later cleaned out the remaining portion of the culvert located on private property mid-March.
The shoulder movement on Hillcrest Drive is a common occurrence that shows up on many Kootenay roads at this time of year, according to Kate Mukasa, an MOTI public affairs officer.
“A very high groundwater table and saturated soils can cause the ground to move more easily which can place roads, buildings, retaining walls and even trees at risk of moving,” she explained.
A field inspection on Hillcrest late last month indicated that subsurface soils underneath the road are still too wet to initiate any construction.
“We will continue to monitor this site and are hopeful that we will be able to commence work at the site within the next month,” she added. “When we are able to get into the site, we will excavate to a sufficient depth to remove the slumped shoulder then reconstruct the road and resurface again with an asphalt layer.”