People in the Cowichan Valley are cleaning up Tuesday following the flooding yesterday that saw higher waters than the last one less than two years ago.
Hundreds fled their homes following evacuation notices in several areas Monday and today some roads and highways are still impacted by high water.
In North Cowichan, the Trans Canada Highway was reduced by floodwater to a single lane northbound, one of about a dozen roads impacted by the storm.
“It was a major disruption to vehicular traffic through the region, very widespread,” said Kris Schumacher, with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Schumacher says the flooding forced at least 200 people to access the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s emergency services including lodging and gift cards.
The Halalt First Nation evacuated most of its 44 homes when the Chemainus River burst its banks yesterday. It’s now putting up 120 people in hotels.
“We’re a little bit more prepared but not enough,” said Chief James Thomas of the Halalt First Nation.
In the February 2020 flood, the First Nation’s septic system failed. Not this time, thanks to above-ground upgrades, even though the water was higher this time. Again though the First Nation says a problem was a lack of enough culverts under the Island Corridor Foundation’s rail line causing water to pool around its member’s homes.
“It’s really frustrating. It becomes a legal question now because that’s what we’ve got to look at to remediate that problem and you know we put them on notice last year,” said Thomas.
Ron Thistlethwhite is cleaning up after his mother in laws home flooded, the waters higher this time.
“Four feet up from the ground level, entered the house and the house is a mess. Last time it just hit the shop here and the car that was parked but the house was saved last time,” said Thistlethwhite.
At Russell Farms the flood has made a huge mess. Despite some mitigation efforts, the owner is frustrated to see a repeat flood so soon after the last one.
“I would like the government to move instead of finding a reason and saying ‘No, it’s not going to happen again. It’s just a pineapple [express]. It only comes one time every 40 years. Yeah guys, thanks a lot,” said France Bournazel, Russell Farm Market’s owner.
Bournazel says they’re not insured following the last flood of February 2020 because no company will insure them.
They’re working to reopen but say the flood’s impact is devastating.