Saskatoon pair caught in B.C. following fearful freeway expertise, deluged highways closed

A Saskatoon woman and her father on their way home from British Columbia were forced to turn back to Victoria, after devastating flooding and mudslides that closed roads and led the province to declare a state of emergency.

Lisa Haatvedt didn’t plan to travel at night, and said the road conditions in the dark were “terrifying.”

She was travelling to Hope, B.C., on Nov. 14 — a pit stop on her way back to Saskatoon. She checked road conditions and was aware there were issues on the Trans-Canada Highway, but said there wasn’t a good indication of the severity.

She wasn’t trying to brave the conditions, she says.

“We just wanted to get home.”

The warning they received was that road conditions were dynamic and to avoid unnecessary travel — but she considered getting home to be necessary.

Nearly at Hope, she said she was diverted off of Highway 1, to Agassiz, B.C. That road to Hope was closed too.

It was on the way back to safety — a hotel room in Mission, B.C. — that “it became obvious that conditions were incredibly dangerous,” she told Leisha Grebinksi, host of CBC’s Saskatoon Morning.

There was such a deep and long pool of water on the highway — with floating debris — that in the dark, Haatvedt thought it was a tree.

Muddy water pouring over the side of a barrier on Highway 5 in British Columbia, about a 20-minute drive east of Hope, B.C. (Submitted by Dawson Komant)

She passed another traveller who said the roads were open, but with a lot of pooling. Haatvedt continued onward.

“We felt we needed to continue because we had nowhere else to go. But in the pitch black, in the pouring rain, it was terrifying,” she said.

“That was when I started to fear for our lives.”

She navigated for her father, Roger, who drove his truck. Haatvedt said she prayed that they would make it to Mission.

Abbotsford, less than a 30-minute drive south of Mission, has since been devastated by the floods.

Safe and soundly waiting

Haatvedt made it to her hotel and after that back to Victoria, where she had been staying with family.

Now, with an indefinite stay ahead of her, she feels “exhausted, overwhelmed and, I guess, traumatized.”

“And just feeling like we did come pretty close to losing our lives that night.”

The event has led her to reflect on how “fragile the connections throughout Canada are.”

“You’re totally reliant on highways that can be destroyed in a single weather event,” she said, especially in British Columbia, where some roads and highways are set on mountainsides.

“All you can do is be grateful that you survived, that you’re safe.”

Comments are closed.