Many people in Hope have been scrambling to save their homes from flood waters since Sunday.
The district has been dealing with the effects of atmospheric storms since Nov. 14, but issued a state of local emergency on Nov. 28 as the Coquihalla River rose, erased Othello Road, and threatened many homes along the water.
But by then, several buildings and homes had already been lost in the Othello area.
The home of Graham Zillwood was washed away on Nov. 15. And on Nov. 28, the home of Katrina and Don Page was also lost to the river. So was the land the homes once sat on, as the Coquihalla River changed course with the heavy flow of water.
The Pages had lived in the home for seven years, and have never seen it that high, Katrina told The Standard. The home had been there since the 1980s and they moved there from Maple Ridge when Don retired.
Also destroyed was several acres at the Othello Campground, where many people live year round in RVs.
A man named Chip watched from the Hope side of the broken Othello Road, as water rushed along a new path. He points out where his trailer is, hidden behind a few others. He points out that Fish Camp Road is completely gone, as are several buildings. Across the water, Othello Road continues to Highway 5, another route that is currently closed for travel.
There is no way to the campsite until the highway is cleared for travel.
He got out in a hurry on Nov. 15, the same day Zillwood’s home was washed away.
“I slept in my car for seven days behind the baseball diamonds,” he said, not wanting to crowd into the high school that operated briefly as an evacuation centre.
Then he and others were able to get housing in Park Street Manor in Hope.
Like others who have been evacuated or lost their homes, he is choosing to stay close. The evacuation orders ask evacuees to travel all the way to Abbotsford to check in at the Tradex.
The Pages have checked in online, and are living down the river in their RV – a possession they were lucky to save along with their three dogs and kitten. They will now have to go through all the hurdles to receive disaster relief funds.
All residents in Othello say there was no help for them from anyone in the days and even hours leading up to the disaster there. This week, Fraser Valley Regional District board chair Jason Lum spoke out about the lack of support from the province.
In the meantime, the Pages’ daughter Jenelle has started a GoFundMe to help her family, called Help for Kat and Don.
“The floods have been terrible and the rising waters have had no mercy and taken anything and everything in its path. The devastation down Othello has been monumental,” she wrote.
“As of right now, they are lucky to be out safe with all of their animals but we do not know where they will go from here or what the future holds,” she adds. “I do know this… they are strong and they have an army of people who love them.”
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