By Adrian Nieoczym
All of a sudden, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, a wall of mud comes sliding down a hill picking up rocks and debris before crashing through farms and homes. Some survivors outran the slide only to turn around and see their home get swallowed up. Miraculously, no one is killed or injured, though five homes are destroyed, 25 others evacuated and several orchards and vineyards are covered in a thick layer of goop.
It turns out an earthen dam on a reservoir lake gave way, unleashing its contents. The tragedy is compounded when it becomes clear a warning, from a hiker who walked past the lake and saw water slopping over its banks, eroding the earth holding it back, was ignored on the Friday afternoon. And now there are questions about whether the government had inspected this dam as it was required to.
This has been one of the most tragic and most challenging stories I have ever covered but from a journalism point of view, also very rewarding.
Here are the stories that appeared in the Globe and Mail the week of June 14-19, starting with the most recent.