North Cowichan flood victims still out of homes 3 months later

North Cowichan flood victims still out of homes 3 months later
WatchDozens of residents flooded out of their North Cowichan homes back in February are still out three months later. As Skye Ryan reports, they're trying to get back on their feet in the middle of a pandemic, and it's proving slow and exhausting.

A plastic tote is all that survived the floodwaters that devastated Debbie McDonald’s North Cowichan home in February.

Inside the tote are water-damaged irreplaceable photos that smell. They were pulled from the debris when floodwaters receded.

“That’s all I have of my kids’ stuff,” said Debbie MacDonald.

“It’s been three months of hell.”

Three months after the floodwaters dropped, McDonald and about 20 neighbours along Westholme Road are still out of their homes.

“Well we were put on hold for quite a while,” said Halalt First Nation member Gary Norris.

“We’ve been moved how many times from place to place.”

The delay continues the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That slowed everything down, that pandemic,” said Norris.

“You try to go see somebody and they’re closed, everything’s done by phone or appointments.”

“A lot of the companies and that we can’t get in touch with,” said Halalt First Nation member Carl Norris.

“And it’s just we’re at a standstill.”

“We’ve been living it since February 1st,” said Norris.

The community was in the middle of its recovery from a once in 20-year flood that struck February 1, requesting financial aid and getting insurance claims processed, when the worldwide pandemic overshadowed everything.

McDonald said she’s still waiting for disaster assistance funding.

“And I was emailing them and they said well we’re working from home,” said McDonald.

“And I’m like well I’m sorry but you promised me this a long time ago. I don’t have a home. Do you have a bed? Yes, well I don’t have a bed yet.”

Flood victims are relying on family to help with demolition and clean up as best they can.

“You can’t beat family,” said Norris.

“I’m just grateful for my family being around me,” he said.

MacDonald has been assured her compensation is on its way, and Norris expects to have his home lifted this coming weekend to avoid another flood down the road.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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