The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up

Living Through a Mudslide in Harrison Hot Springs

Resident Mervyn Thomas shares his story of narrowly escaping disaster: ‘It was like a freight train.’

Mervyn Thomas, as told to Katie Hyslop 23 Nov 2021 |

Mervyn Thomas is a resident of Harrison Hot Springs.

[Editor’s note: Mervyn and Sabena Thomas live in the District of Kent at the base of Bear Mountain, just outside Harrison Hot Springs. A massive rainfall of 127 millimetres on Sunday, Nov. 14, caused a mudslide down the mountain that cut off access to their street, Rockwell Drive, and severely damaged the home they moved into last year. The following is Mervyn Thomas’s account of that night, as told to reporter Katie Hyslop. For more stories of the deluge that hit B.C. last week, go here.]

Around 5:30 on Sunday evening, I was watching football in the living room of our home just outside Sasquatch Provincial Park in Harrison Hot Springs. My wife Sabena was still at work in town but was set to come home soon.

Suddenly a noise came that was so loud it was like a freight train was rushing through the living room. I ran to the back door to try to see what was happening, but it was too dark to see. The noise grew even louder, now accompanied by the sounds of massive trees snapping and cracking, and boulders tumbling down the mountain. It felt like the whole mountain was rushing down onto the house.

Frightened, I ran upstairs to our bedroom on the other side of the house. With my back to the window, I waited for boulders and trees to smash through the walls. The thundering noise kept going for another 10 to 30 seconds, I’m not sure how long I was standing there. But then, other than the pouring rain outside, it was silent.

Not fully dressed, I jumped into a pair of jeans, grabbed a sweater, pulled on my runners and headed out the front door. I don’t know how, but I managed to call 911 on my way out to alert them to the mudslide.

Despite the dark I could see broken tree branches, giant rocks, logs piled against our truck, and a tree lying against the house. We would later find out the pump house in our backyard, as well as our truck, had diverted the worst of the slide away from our house, saving it from destruction.

But there was seven feet of debris on our property, another one of our vehicles was pushed down an adjacent ravine, our driveway had collapsed, and the front of the house was destroyed.

582px version of MudslideHarrisonHotspringsCar.jpg

I headed on foot for our neighbours’ house roughly 100 yards away. The slide had missed their house entirely, flowing into Harrison Lake after washing out the only access road to the area.

My neighbour was so scared by the noise, she looked like a ghost when she opened the door. Together we hopped in her car to head into town, but the road was blocked by the mudslide. So we turned around and hung out in her house while we waited for rescue; luckily the power was still on. I was even able to return briefly to our house to pack some essentials and turn off the heat.

582px version of MudslideHarrisonHotSpringsDamage.jpg

We got word that we would be picked up by a rescue boat on Harrison Lake. So around 10 p.m. we headed down to the water along with three women who were vacationing in the area for the weekend with their two dogs. We arrived in Harrison Hot Springs, normally less than a 10-minute drive from our house, at 1:15 a.m.

Sabena, who met me at the dock in the pouring rain, had spent two hours on the phone earlier that evening before she was able to secure us a hotel room for the night. Local flooding and the mudslide meant most of the accommodations in town were fully booked.

Since that night we have been able to return to our home for an hour, again by boat, to pick up some more essentials. We have applied for provincial emergency funding as we have learned our insurance doesn’t cover mudslides. Insurance will cover the apartment we’re renting in Chilliwack, however, while we wait for the state of emergency to lift and to receive word that it is safe to return home.  [Tyee]

Read more: Environment

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll