Many residents of Lake Cowichan are still in clean-up mode after the heavy rain and windstorm that struck the town, and the whole Cowichan Valley, over the weekend.
Lake Cowichan Mayor Rod Peters said it’s the worst flooding he has seen in the area in about 15 years, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District called a state of emergency in the region on Friday evening as water levels rose across the Valley.
“It was pretty bad,” Peters said Monday morning.
“The area around Sahtlam Avenue, the pickleball courts, Riverside Road and Saywell Park were all flooded. Some of the roads in the area were under six to eight inches of water, but they were still passable.”
Peters said he has no hard numbers at this time, but he expects approximately 50 homes and businesses in and around the town were flooded during the storm.
“I expect it may take some time to clean up a number of the buildings, but I don’t believe there was any real serious damage,” he said.
“There was a report of some oil seepage from one of the flooded homes near the Credit Union.”
Peters said the water had receded by Monday morning, and Lake Cowichan was operating as normal, but the town’s workers also have a lot of work to do clearing up the mess that was left behind.
“There’s a lot of debris on the streets,” he said.
“It looks like a tide line in the middle of town.”
A Pineapple Express rain and windstorm hit the Cowichan Valley hard beginning on Jan. 31 into the early morning hours of Feb. 1, forcing an evacuation of 23 people in the Crofton area due to flooding, and the closure of a number of roads, including the Trans-Canada Highway between Nanaimo and Duncan, as well as the Pacific Marine Circle Route from Cowichan Lake to Sooke, and Cowichan Bay Road.
The CVRD declared a state of emergency Friday evening, that was still in effect Monday, due to the closures and the swell of rivers and lakes in the district that flooded people’s homes and yards and closed parks.
The CVRD’s statement on its website on Monday morning said the immediate threat has passed and residents may now return to their homes, but residents should review the BC provincial Guide to Disaster Recovery before they head inside to check out the flood damage.
The CVRD also opened a resiliency centre at the Cowichan Community Centre on James Street in Duncan, to provide information and resources to those affected by flooding on Monday and Tuesday.
This could include building assessment, counselling, information on cleanup, health support and answering potential questions around insurance.
The resiliency centre was staffed by representatives from the CVRD public safety division, Red Cross and other partner agencies.
The Emergency Operation Centre was downgraded from a Level 2 to a Level 1, administered by CVRD public safety staff until such time as the state of local emergency is rescinded.
All BC Hydro customers suffering power outages in the Cowichan Valley had their electricity restored by Sunday evening.