‘We’re still trying to settle’: Island families living in flood damage one year later

One year after their house was flooded, Norris family home on the Halalt First Nation is still deemed unsafe.

One year after the Norris family home was flooded it is still deemed unsafe, but the family is left with no choice but to live there.

An unsafe notice is still stapled to the entrance of the home on the Halalt First Nation.

“It’s an awful feeling. As soon as I came down I could already smell it and I’m like and we have to allow them to stay down here,” said Halalt First Nation member Tracey Norris.

In the basement, signs of flood damage are still clear and the smell from accumulated mould is present.

“You can smell some of the mould up in the walls,” said Tracey’s grandson Brian Norris.

Several children, including two newborns, live in the Norris’ Halalt First Nation home, that was one of many here damaged by flooding caused by a massive atmospheric river on Nov. 15, 2021.

Tracey said the family was out of the home briefly and clean-up was done, but repairs are still needed. Now with nowhere else to go, they have surrounded their home in sandbags for the next storm, readying for another hit.

“We’re still trying to settle from the last one, and we’re worrying about the next one,” said Tracey.

Continuing flood damage from the November 2021 storm is so widespread on the Halalt First Nation that 40 homes and buildings are now being assessed for mould damage, and 15 are expected to be torn down

“We do need help. We are getting help but it’s a long and tedious,” said Halalt General Manager Caroline Gladstone.

According to Gladstone new homes are being built to replace damaged ones, but it will take years to recover from that storm.

“Three of four years and that’s if we don’t get hit again,” said Gladstone.

Ray Tony Charlie and his wife are still out of their home on the Penelakut First Nation nearby, due to flood damage, and don’t know when they’ll be allowed back.

“No idea,” said Charlie, a Penelakut elder and residential school survivor. “Because I think our hotels only paid until December. After then I don’t know.”

Gravel removal and flood mitigation is now underway on the Chemainus River to reduce the impact of another big storm. One that’s already on the doorstep, and expected to combine with a king tide next week.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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