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'Everything is gone': Othello Road home swept away in B.C. storm

Home swept away in storm

Jenelle Staetter looks back on her memories at her parent's home on Othello Road with fondness.

“They have this beautiful property right on Othello Road, orchard garden, full couple of acres worth,” she says.

Her husband and their four children would make the trip from Abbotsford to their property on weekends. With an evacuation order in place and flooding across B.C., they’ve not been able to visit.

Staetter says her parents chose to leave their home on Nov. 14 — with all of their animals in tow— after the first storm caused the area to flood.

"Their neighbour's house had washed away [during that first flood], the street pretty much ended right near there. We thought that was devastating,” she says.

The pair returned home shortly after, she adds, and tried to access help by calling both the City of Hope and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

“They were trying to just reach anyone to do something.”

On Sunday night, her parents started sending updates on their home as more rain fell across the province.

Through tears, Staetter recalls receiving the images, watching from afar as the water rose and their home was washed down the river.

"Everything is gone. They built that property... with their bare hands. They did it all themselves,” she says. “The river took everything, the land, everything. Othello Road is decimated."

Now, Staetter is questioning why more wasn’t done in the weeks prior.

"Why wasn’t anything done and why wasn’t anything done sooner?” she asks.

During a press conference on Monday, Glacier Media asked the province what preventative flood measures had been undertaken in the Othello and Hope region.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called the situation "heartbreaking."

“What I can tell you is that the province will be there in terms of the emergency supports required to get them through this time and we intend to do that and make sure that they’re supported,” he said.

“In terms of the flooding, the event on the (Nov.) 14 was so dramatic, unprecedented, it came down in a way that even experts did not expect. Yesterday, I know that flood advisory had been in place in the Hope area.”

At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Staetter’s parent's home was gone.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday that an evacuation order was issued for their property on Othello Road.

The pair, who was able to get out safely, is currently living in an RV. To help cope with an uncertain future, Staetter has created a GoFundMe campaign for them.

"They’re still processing. It’s just traumatic. My mom is hardly sleeping, not eating. How do you even being to process something like this?” says Staetter.

OTHELLO TUNNELS DAMAGED

A couple from Hope decided to help their neighbours out in the Othello Road area after homes and roads were flooded on Monday.

Adam Szakall and Chyanne Tynan said they spent all morning helping people evacuate their properties.

“We were actually helping them grab as many personal items and pictures and whatever they could take to squeeze in their RV,” says Szakall.

The couple also used a drone to capture footage of the flooded properties.

"Homeowners on the Othello Road asked if we could fly over and see their house and the shape that it was in,” he says. "The road now is basically washed out at the bottom of the hill. All the houses on the left side are completely gone.”

Nearby, the historic Othello Tunnels have been ravaged by water.

"We went down and were pretty shocked by what we saw,” he says. "The trail to the tunnels is basically six inches worth of mud and again, lots of log jams and debris. [It's] pretty bad.”

The Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park is currently closed to the public. A warning about rocks falling has been issued.

Glacier Media reached out to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for details about the damage to the Othello Tunnels and is waiting for a response.



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