6 months after historic flooding, some British Columbians still have no homes

For seven years, Katrina Page took comfort in watching the The Coquihalla River flows past his home in Hope, British Columbia, about 150 kilometers east of Vancouver.

Page, 59, remembers the days when he picked fresh fruit in the orchard, listened to the birds sing and swayed in hammocks under a forest of fir, fir and maple trees, all in the shade of the mountains of Hope.

“It was a perfect place to be,” said Page, who now watches diggers plow through sediment and pick up debris from where her home once stood.

The river no longer brings comfort to Page, who lived on the property with her husband and two dogs and where she often hosted her four children and 12 grandchildren.

At the end of November, the river tore their house and prevailed following historic rainfall and flooding that ravaged parts of British Columbia. She and her husband are among more than 1,100 British Columbians still displaced from their homes.

“We lost everything,” said Page, whose one-story home was mortgage-free.

Waiting for answers

Six months later, Page is living in a trailer on his neighbor’s property. And many other flood-displaced residents like her are still waiting for answers about the future of their finances and their homes.

The provincial government has distributed nearly $7 million from its disaster financial assistance program. For people like Page, the fund only compensated them for a portion of their losses.

Many people who lost their homes still cannot find affordable housing, including people who rented their homes. Some have called on the province to increase funds available for flood relief.

“There’s no way we can afford to stay here,” Page said. “So I don’t know where we’re going to end up.”

Katrina Page’s home before the November 2021 floods. (Karina Page)

Page says she is still waiting in limbo for permanent housing. His property was not eligible for flood insurance because they live in a flood plain. The province’s Disaster Financial Assistance program provides support for uninsurable losses, such as repairing and restoring damaged homes. Depending on the destruction, people can receive up to $300,000.

The province offered Page compensation from the relief fund. She did not provide the exact amount but said it was “a pittance”. She says her property is worth around $850,000.

She hopes the province will pay her the market value of the property, but has yet to hear back.

“I don’t think I could sleep at night here anymore. So we hope. A buyout would be really nice.”

Sediment and debris cover the property where Katrina Page lived before the floods. (Radio-Canada News)

The regional district that includes Hope also wants the province to increase funding for those displaced by the floods.

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) says the current limit of $300,000 is too low.

“While FVRD staff does not suggest that the province should fully cover the risk of these types of events, $300,000 is insufficient to meet the needs of affected residents,” the district said in a mailed statement. electronic.

Emergency Management BC says as of May 12, it has distributed more than $6.9 million through the Disaster Relief Fund. In April, additional funding was announced for 10 flood-affected communities.

The province says it is always looking for ways to improve the disaster financial assistance program.

Renters are worried about the future of long-term housing

Flooding in November also displaced those renting their homes in the Sumas Prairie community in Abbotsford, British Columbia, one of the hardest hit areas.

A family – a mother and her daughter-in-law – whose home was destroyed now live separately in a hotel and a trailer. The daughter-in-law is pregnant.

Six months after historic floods, families are rebuilding their homes. Levi St. Jean is working on his family’s 80-year-old home, which was badly damaged by floodwaters last November in Abbotsford, British Columbia. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

CBC has agreed not to release their identities due to concerns about safety and how speaking out could hurt their chances of finding new accommodations.

“That’s a lot of tenants getting left behind, you know…I’m really tired and overwhelmed.” said the mother.

She receives financial assistance from the Red Cross, but worries about finding new permanent accommodation that she can afford.

The daughter-in-law agreed, especially with a child on the way.

“I don’t want to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about where I’m going to lay my head,” she said.

The Red Cross says that while it cannot comment on individual cases due to confidentiality, the agency is providing financial support to help cover short-term shelter costs and basic needs.

By April, the Red Cross had raised more than $40 million for those affected by flooding and extreme weather in British Columbia.

In late January, more than $17 million was distributed in evacuation-related emergency financial assistance to more than 7,200 eligible households, according to the release.

But the daughter-in-law says they need more support for long-term affordable housing – a sentiment shared by other displaced residents.

“We want a home and not be afraid…of not having a home and where we’re going to sleep.”