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State of local emergency issued in B.C. community of Kaslo after landslide

Dozens of homes have been evacuated in a small community in southeastern British Columbia after a landslide prompted a local state of emergency.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay ordered the evacuation late Monday of 47 homes in Kaslo, a community of about 1,000 people about 450 kilometres east of Vancouver.

There was no damage reported to any of the homes. Bronwen Bird, emergency information officer for the regional district, said the order was mainly a precaution.

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"We didn't have time to assess the slide before it got dark, so out of an abundance of caution, we decided to issue a state of local emergency," she said.

The slide happened after weeks of heavy rain and significant snowmelt. There have been several smaller landslides in recent months, leading to basement damages or mud spilling over onto roads.

"In the last month, we had a lot of snow melting very quickly, and rain makes it wash away," Ms. Bird said. "The ground can only take so much before it finally lets go."

Kaslo is located about 18 kilometres south of Johnsons Landing, where four people were killed when a landslide buried several homes in 2012. Heavy rain last month led to an evacuation alert for 50 to 60 homes in the same area of Johnsons Landing.

Kaslo resident Yvonne Hand found out late at night that her home was on the list to be evacuated.

"Search-and-rescue comes to your door and they tell you that there is an evacuation alert. It's night, you can't see anything," she said. "You gather what you need and you go down to the centre at the Legion."

Ms. Hand said some of the evacuees appeared to be distraught over the evacuation. "You could see the panic on their faces. They didn't know where their family members were. They're safe, but they didn't know that at the time," Ms. Hand said.

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Cindy Fawcett said she was proud of how the community responded.

"All that I see is that no houses have been affected and that the community is coming together," she said. "Everyone is offering houses and places to stay. There is going to be a get-together at the pub for everybody. Just seeing the whole community coming out to help each other is really cool."

Geotechnical engineers were surveying the damage to determine how long the evacuation order will last.

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