Some Vancouver Island residents brace for flooding

Gord Johns in the News

Source: CHEK TV, by Calvin To

[Video at link above]

Volunteers say close to 3,000 or 4,000 sandbags have been laid so far as water levels swell on the Somass River.

On the Tseshaht First Nation, 14 homes are now protected, but 16 more remain threatened by floodwaters which are already taking over parts of the community.

On Saturday night, 6 families were evacuated from the Tseshaht First Nation. Officials say it was a proactive measure.

However, it's still unnerving for those who have seen this all before.

"It's kind of scary," says resident Matila Atleo. "I've lived here previously for over 25 years, and in those 25 years I think it's only flooded a couple of times."

Nearly 160 mm of rain have fallen on Port Alberni so far this month.

At least one road has been washed out, but the highway remain open, for now.

Officials say parts of Vancouver Island are expected to be hit by a series of storms on Sunday.

From Sunday until Wednesday, some areas could see between 150 mm to as much 300 mm of rainfall.

"We need to stay vigilant, we need to stay focussed and support the nation here and support the community and our neighbours," says Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay-Alberni.

Dozens of volunteers have come from Port Alberni to the Tseshaht First Nation to help with sandbagging. Still, with crews working 14 hour days, officials say more are welcome.

The First Nation is now considering talks with the federal government to work on the possibility of restricting home building in areas near the banks of the river.

It is an effort to combat what seems like a new normal for those in the area.

"In 2014 we were told that the flood was a once in a hundred year event," says Hugh Braker from the Tseshaht First Nation. "And in then in 2015 we got the threat again, and then here we are again in 2016, so it's been three years in a row, we're starting to wonder what's going on and why this is happening so much."

One point of relief for crews is that the river rose less than anticipated overnight.