It’s been a year that Saanich’s Margo Lisik is ready to put behind her.
She lost a brother, a sister, a close colleague at work, had her van broken into during a volunteer trip and, since May 14, her family has been displaced by a major fire to their house on Homer Road. On top of that Lisik, at teacher at Lau Welnew Tribal School near Brentwood Bay, is at home this month recovering from preventative surgery, something she’ll get over soon, she says.
“It’s been, just overwhelming, that’s all I can say,” Lisik said. “The support from our church has been wonderful, we’re thankful for the neighbours collecting our mail for us, but this year has been a lot of things to take in.”
The family leaned on church support, with members of the Emmanuel Baptist congregation helping the Lisiks to find furnished rentals.
“Even then, in one case we needed dishes so people from the church gave us that, others gave us money to help with buying food to get started,” Lisik said.
The family is also grateful no one was hurt in the fire. It started sometime betwee 10 and 10:30 a.m. on Mother’s Day while the family was at church. They were told it was caused by faulty wiring and the damage estimate by Saanich Fire was $300,000. Had it happened overnight, it could have been a much different result.
Fire fighters spent all day at the house ensuring the smouldering embers were out.
Six months later, there is still no return date for the Lisik family, who lived at Homer Road since 2000.
“I will be glad to have 2018 come around,” Lisik said. “The fire repairs and insurance takes a long time, there’s been nothing straight forward about it.”
Passersby might think the house looks intact from the street but it’s not. There is damage to the structure and because of the heavy water and smoke damage, a lot of belongings and the interior are ruined.
For now, the Lisiks — Margo, her husband Laval, who works at the Esquimalt dockyard and daughter Geneviève, also a teacher — are renting a Langford home. It’s their second rental since the fire (third if you count the initial stay at a hotel) and they are likely in need of a third as they are still waiting for their insurance company post the repair of their home as a request for proposals.
People don’t realize the long process of returning to a home after a fire, Lisik said.
“Only now are we learning how hard it is to itemize everything in the home,” she said. “It’s slow going. We’ve talked to others who knew people that had been through a fire, and it takes a while.”
It’s little things, like the back and forth emails niggling over how to categorize a laptop, or finding time to visit the local restoration company, which closes at 4:30 p.m. and isn’t open on weekends.
At the time of the fire both Lisik’s daughter Geneviève and son Isaac, who both teach at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Langford, were living on Homer. Isaac has since moved out, and his engagement to his fiancee has become a rallying point for a family, and mom, trying to stay positive.
Among the hard to replace items that were lost was Geneviève’s custom highland dancing outfits (she borrowed an outfit to compete on stage at the Victoria Highland Games one week after the fire). Ironically, while Isaac’s big set of bagpipes managed to survive, his smaller set was stolen out of Lisik’s van during a trip to Manitoba with their youth group.
“There is some good,” Lisik said. “We’re focused on Isaac’s engagement. We’re thankful that all of us are safe, no one was hurt, and things that can be replaced.”