‘Big relief’: Evacuees return home to flood-damaged Halalt First Nation

'Big relief': Evacuees return home to flood-damaged Halalt First Nation
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Kenneth Elliott enjoyed a moment of calm on his front lawn with his 2-year-old daughter on Friday, both glad to be back home after their family was evacuated due to flooding on the Halalt First Nation.

“A lot better than it was before,” said Kenneth Elliott, a member of Halalt First Nation.

The water levels have lowered and clean-up is going around the clock to bring all those evacuated back to their homes.

15 people remained out Friday of the original 120 as remediation and air testing is done in the most severely affected homes and their basement suites.

“We don’t see them moving back home in the basement any time soon in case it floods again,” said Halalt Chief James Thomas.

Helen Joe is one of those still evacuated.

“Have to make it safe for my grandkids. Just a lot of mould and stuff down there from that last flood,” said Helen Joe, a member of the Halalt First Nations.

When floodwaters from the surging Chemainus River overwhelmed the area on November 15, it sent people fleeing to higher ground.

Elliott was one of those members who raced home to get his family out of the house to safety.

“The water was already rushing in so it was quick,” said Elliott.

According to Halalt Chief James Thomas, help came faster than it ever has come before. From BC Wildfire crews and Canadian Military soldiers deployed to help residents sandbag around their homes to the province making two large open cuts in the E & N rail line Monday to release floodwaters.

“Big relief to have the cuts to alleviate water coming into our community,” said Thomas.

Even Russell Farm Market, which was badly flooded on November 15, has prepared to re-open next week.

“We gotta keep going and we’ve had so much support. It’s just overwhelming,” said Russell Farm Market’s owner France Bournazel.

As the Cowichan Valley comes back from the second devastating flood in two years, it is fully aware that another flood may not be far away.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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