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Crises continue in Hope but help is on the way

As flood waters continue to erode land in Hope, work is starting to repair damage
Peregrine Aerial Surveys Inc. captured this image of the damage to date at the Othello area near Hope. Othello Road is now cut off by the river as seen in the middle left of the image. Highway 5 is cut off in the westbound lanes at the bottom right of the image. Above that is the continuation of Othello Road. (Peregrine Aerial Surveys Inc./ Twitter)

The Coquihalla River has changed course in Hope and it’s too early to know if it will ever be pushed back.

But what’s clear is that several homes, acres of property and at least one business were destroyed by the powerful river flow as it pushed through Othello. The residents of the area were the first to realize there was a problem, as the river began to chip away at its own edge in mid-November.

They’ve been sharing their stories online and with The Standard, and asking government bodies where the help was, and what they are supposed to do now. Because these places were in the flood plain, they are not insured.

Many residents of Hope have lost everything.

This week’s edition is again filled with stories from residents with varying degrees of loss, including the loss of recreational lots, RVs and other assets. There are even more stories online, from The Standard and our sister papers in the Fraser Valley. The damage is widespread and deeply felt in so many communities.

As of on Wednesday, there were 114 properties along the Coquihalla River on evacuation alert, and dozens throughout the Silver Skagit alluvial fan on alert as well.

The province has arrived and are shoring up the riverbanks quickly, and residents will see heavy machinery around the area for the coming weeks.

Fraser Valley Regional District says their staff have been working around the clock with first responders to assist the people who are suffering in this crisis. As a result, FVRD applied to Emergency Management BC for $30,000 in funding to support the standby efforts of FVRD volunteer fire departments who have been on the ground working for 10 days straight. That request was denied.

“To have a request for $30,000 to compensate those incredible volunteers for the round-the-clock work they are doing shows a complete lack of understanding for our situation and community. It’s an insult to those volunteers who are out risking their lives for their neighbour. This needs to be resolved immediately,” said FVRD board chair Jason Lum earlier this week.

There are months of repairs ahead in Hope, to homes, businesses, infrastructure and more and that work will be in the hands of everyone from residents and business owners to all levels of government.

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl has stayed back from Ottawa to remain in this riding during this crisis, and the District of Hope has been issuing information steadily onto their website.

For resources on how to get help during this time, check with FVRD, the District of Hope, MP Mark Strahl and Emergency Management BC.

READ MORE: Disaster response experts touch down in Fraser Valley Regional District’s evacuated areas


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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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