WATCH: It’s been a week since a major windstorm tore across Vancouver Island, uprooting many lives along the way. One Duncan family lost their home, forcing them to spend the holidays in a motel and their week only got worse. Now the family is left trying to pick up the pieces. Kori Sidaway has their story.
The damage was jaw-dropping. A fallen tree pierced through the heart of the Joe family home during Thursday’s windstorm.
“You can see the cottonwood tree where it snapped off up there. The branches fell onto the roof and that’s what did the damage,” said patriarch Lester Joe.
“We just thought it was just branches that fell onto our house,” said Lester’s son Edward Joe.
Last week’s devastating windstorm left many without power, but it left the Joe family without a home.
“We’ve lived in this house for 26 years, [Edward] was two weeks old when we moved into this house. So this is the first Christmas we won’t spend in the house,” said Lester.
The 90 km/hr winds tore through neighbouring cottonwood forests, sending a tree right through their home just days before Christmas.
“What are we going to do now, where are we going to stay all start coming up,” said Lester, reflecting on his initial reaction.
The family usually gathers at their house for the holidays, but their Christmas tree now lays abandoned.
“I didn’t really celebrate it, I was just more worried about where we were going to stay and how things were going to work out for us,” said Lester.
But the worst was maybe yet to come.
“I thought the worst had already happened,” said Lester.
“We’re already devastated with the damage, on top of that someone steals things.”
Some thieves made away with $1,000 in Christmas gifts and money the family raises each year for the Cowichan Powwow. The family had gone to a hotel after the storm but had packed up the gifts, money and other belongings in their house in case there was more damage.
But even in the midst of the devastation, the family still has room for kindness.
“They must have really needed it, more than we did or the community did. Because we put that up for the community and to keep our culture going,” said Edward.
Without much, the family is left feeling very lucky they still have one another.
“Really, really lucky, I just say the creator is always watching over us in some way somehow,” said Lester.
A GoFundMe campaign for the family has been set up here. Repairs on the house, which had insurance, are expected to be done by April.