Langford residents living along Millstream Creek are bracing for incoming storms which could see the already drenched region hit with tens of millimetres of rain in the coming days.
Some Atkins Road residents like Jeff Morrow are especially aware of what’s at stake. His backyard was completely destroyed in a mudslide during Nov. 15’s record-breaking storm, very nearly taking his home of more than 30 years along with it.
”At daybreak (Nov. 15) I went out to look out from the deck and I was shocked by how high the water had come and how it was raging … you have your heart in your throat because there is nothing you can do about it,” Morrow said. “By 6 p.m. it was starting to go down, so we started to relax … around 9:30 p.m. we heard this horrific crunch, crash, whoosh.
“We grabbed some flashlights, ran around to the back of the house and saw what looked like a meteor had crashed into the backyard.”
Despite how surreal their experience has been, Morrow and his family consider themselves fortunate no one has been injured in their neighbourhood, while harder-hit regions of the province have had fatalities and more severe damage.
Engineers have been in to evaluate the property and regardless how bad the damage looks, Morrow said the house is holding firm. That is probably thanks to the thousands of dollars the couple invested into foundation reinforcements and pinning to the underlying bedrock in the aftermath of severe flooding back in 1991, he said.
Temporary fixes should be in place within the next 10 weeks, he added, but permanent fixes will have to wait until the summer. Insurance will not cover this type of damage, Morrow said, but he is confident he will be eligible to receive monetary help as part of the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance program.
While their home has managed to hang on, there is concern a pair of back-to-back atmospheric rivers Environment Canada expects to hit on Nov. 27 and 30 could make the situation far worse.
”The weather forecast has all of us – not just my family and I, but the entire community here – nervous, unsettled, anxious,” Morrow said. “You just have to put your faith in the universe.”
The City of Langford is doing what it can to help residents prepare for the coming storms – they’re expected to be less severe than Nov. 15. But with cleanup and evaluation efforts still underway, Mayor Stew Young said, they can’t do much more than make sandbags available to residents and monitor the situation.
”We are kind of flying by the seat of our pants here,” he said. “I have never seen this much rain in 60 years.”
As for longer-term efforts, Young said the city will be working with all levels of government to determine what mitigation efforts should be taken to make Millstream Creek more flood resistant. He said that could include shoring up the creek’s banks.