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Slide impacts businesses, students

The rock slide west of Keremeos on Monday, did more than just close Highway 3 in both directions for most of this week.

Phone service was out for some for several days, there were fewer regulars and tourists at area restaurants and a handful of students missed school.

"It's been very slow, because we don't have the tourists travelling through from Vancouver or people visiting from Hedley or Princeton," said Tracie Erikson, the onwer of the K-Cafe in Keremeos. "It's a loss of income for us and affects the waitresses because they won't have longer hours."

It is also affecting workers at the stores and banks, who come in from Hedley, she added.

Tanya Truesdell, a waitress at the The Hitching Post Restaurant in Hedley, said they were also feeling the impact on the other side of the slide.

"Business has slowed down at the restaurant, because people can't get through," she said.

Children in Hedley have also been unable to get to school, unless their parents drive them, she said.

On Monday, after the slide, it took her father three hours to bring her two kids back from their schools in Cawston and Keremeos.

Still she's glad no one was badly hurt or killed in the incident which damaged two vehicles and slightly injured a Penticton woman.

"There's nothing we can do about it," she said. "I'm just glad everyone is safe."

Bev Young, the superintendent for School District 53, said about 10 students from Hedley who attend Cawston Primary School, missed school, Tuesday, Wednesday and today, (Thursday). Arrangements were made to get them home on Monday.

At Similkameen Elementary Secondary in Keremeos, about three elementary students missed the three days.

At the secondary level, students stayed with friends or figured out ways to attend. Because it is exam time, two students went to Princeton Secondary School to write provincial exams.

"Princeton welcomed them, and we would like to thank them," said Young.

She added that overall day to day there has been uncertainty, but parents and schools have figured out ways to support students.

Around 100 Telus customers were impacted initially by the slide which knocked out a Telus cable, according to Shawn Hall, a spokesperson for Telus.

They were able to minimize the number of customers impacted because they have redundant cables.

On Wednesday night, workers were able to gain access to the site, restoring service to those 100 customers.

"We weren't able to get into the site because of safety concerns," said Hall. "But we were able to put in temporary cable on Wednesday night."

According to the most recent update from the Ministry of Transportation, there will be another attempt this afternoon, (Thursday), at an aerial assessment of the rock slide. If all goes well, Highway 3 could re-open later this evening.


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