Princeton residents sift through the damage and pump the muddy water out from their homes, many left with nothing after the floods

Properties left unliveable

Casey Richardson


That is the word Princeton’s residents are using to describe the flood that came through Sunday night and into Monday morning, overflowing from the river and completely overwhelming homes.

Homeowners took the time to sift through the damage and pump the muddy water out from their properties on Thursday when floodwaters finally receded.

Resident Paulette Boyd Carlson recalls the night when flooding began as "terrifying."

“The river started coming up, they gave us an evacuation alert. So we started packing up and within probably an hour or so there was an order to get out and 10, 15 minutes later there was water coming down the driveway. Like a foot of water.”

Her family grabbed their essentials and headed to a friend's home, hoping for the best. When they returned to their home two days later, everything was destroyed.

“Our basement is seven feet deep, it was completely full of water. Everything is trashed down there. We had our heater and electrical panel all down there. It's gone. Then it came up a foot on the main floor,” she said.

“It's very emotional. Lost a lot of stuff. But it's amazing how the people that are here and Princeton is pulling together. So it's all good. Hopefully.”

Jesse Ferguson said he counts himself lucky with the minimal damages he received, water entering in just a foot of his basement.

“I didn't realize that there was any flooding happening until maybe 9 o'clock at night, I was just sitting in the house and my next door neighbour across the street texted me that he could see the river up through his kitchen window over the dike. And I thought, ‘Holy crap, that's not good news’”

“We got spared on our street, I think compared to a lot of the other people around town ... My neighbours down the way have five to six feet of water in their houses, there's literally a river flowing through the back alley, down the street, through my neighbour's yard.”

One resident is helping clean out her mom’s place, which has nothing left to salvage.

“It's not liveable anymore,” Sher Robinson said. “She's got no clothing and nothing left. Nothing. But she's got her children to take care of her. I feel for everybody, feel for their families.”

On top of that, her brother's apartment building was also flooded so he needs to stay with her too.

The town itself lost access to their public works location, with the service road completely taken out, along with five vehicles, two pickup trucks and a lot of equipment, according to Mayor Spencer Coyne.

The streets are caked with mud, piles of it sitting in corners of the road as excavators shovel it out of front yards.

“We just kind of all grouped together and helped each other where we could and at the end of the day, we're all still here and we're all going to commit to making things better and rebuilding,” Ferguson said.

Marcell Gariepy was lucky enough to not see any damage to his home, living up on a higher elevation street. But when he saw the river sweep through multiple neighbourhoods, he knew he had to help.

“I'm just a volunteer with pumps and stuff. That's all I could have done. I couldn't really do anything else, other than help give them some support,” he said. “I'll help out anywhere.”

“We've pumped them out but as we pump them out, the ground water is seeping back through and you just can't keep ahead of it. So they're just trying to get everything out to clean it up and get it over with.”

Mayor Coyne added that he’s grateful to everyone who pulled together.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the fire departments, ground search and rescue, the RCMP, BC Ambulance, every volunteer, our industry partners, every single one of them. We honestly couldn't do this without them.”

Evacuees are worried about what will happen in the coming weeks with no homes to return to and no rentals available in town.

“In a couple months, we might need a place to go and I'm sure there's people in town that have absolutely no place to go. There's no rentals in town, all the hotels are full. Everybody's in dire need,” Carlson said.

“Everybody’s housing is going to be gone, done. Where are we going to put people? It’s sad,” Robinson added.

Coyne is pushing for provincial and federal governments to step in and help out the multiple municipalities hit by flooding.

“These type of things, sometimes you can't just put paint over it and fix it. We're gonna have people in need. I've talked to people who have lost absolutely everything,” he said.

“And insurance, if they're lucky enough to have it, it's hard to get flood insurance, it's only going to cover so much.”

“We're gonna need the province, and we're gonna need the federal government to step up, put their money where their mouth is, and help these people. Because that's the only way we're going to get through this.”

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