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Floods and mudslides hit the Coast

Floods and mudslides swept the Coast this week, leaving at least one family temporarily without a home.

Floods and mudslides swept the Coast this week, leaving at least one family temporarily without a home.

The recent rains wreaked havoc on local streets throughout the Coast, washing out shoulders and causing entire roads to be closed while crews worked to divert water and repair roadways.

On Ocean Beach Esplanade, grandparents Harold and Laura Rayner left their home voluntarily after a mudslide brought trees and rocks crashing into the back portion of their home.

"They were awake when it happened at about 8 p.m. Saturday night, but they didn't want to put anyone out," said nephew-in-law Trent Farrell. "They're like that, the nicest people you'll ever meet. They didn't want to trouble anyone, so they spent the night in the house and called us the next day."

Farrell and his wife Kathy live only minutes from the Rayners and came to help once they were made aware of the problem.

"That house was built in 1951 and there's never been a problem with a slide before," he said. "The slide brought a bunch of water that flooded the house and it's still running through the breezeway. Harold is 86 years old and walks with two canes, so we're doing what we can to help. Right now we're moving furniture to drier places in the house to try to save it."

Geotechnical engineers said the hill behind the house became unstable when rains penetrated root systems and caused them to lift up from the ground.

The Rayners have met with Bob Stubbings of the Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP) who says it may be a month or more until the couple can move back into their home.

"It's quite a mess. There's a possibility of more trees coming down, and we expect some to fall in the next little while," said Stubbings.

In the meantime, the Rayners are staying at a friend's cabin on the Coast and investigating costs to fix the slide site and the damaged home.

"You can't get flood insurance in B.C., and slides aren't covered either. But the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) has some funds available for this. They will cover 80 per cent of the costs up to a maximum of $100,000. It's basically an insurance policy the government administers through PEP," said Stubbings.

He said other people might be eligible for the PEP dollars but notes there are some restrictions as to what qualifies for PEP money.

"I don't want to say there's funding there for everyone who has a weather-related emergency. There are restrictions and some fine print, and I have to be called out," said Stubbings, noting he is often called to situations that don't fall under his jurisdiction.

"Basically, if you have an emergency, you should call your first responders like the police or fire department. And if I should be involved, they'll page me."

Fire departments on the Coast have the capability to assist in cases of mud slides or flooding, but Sechelt fire chief Bill Higgs asks community members to call only in the case of an emergency or a threat to public safety.

"We don't want to be calling our volunteers away from work to come and pump out a basement," he said.

However, if a flood does occur in your home and there is a risk involving electricity that you can't turn off, the fire department should be called to assist.

Dozens of homes on the Coast experienced flooding this past week. Homeowners or restoration experts have cleaned up most.The rain seems to have subsided at this point.

Government officials noted that all their crews worked hard to maintain roadways and cut down on closures during the stormy weather.