‘Pretty emotional’: Nooaitch First Nation struggles with isolation, impact of BC floods – BC

Nooaitch First Nation member Ko’waintco Michel has been separated from his family for four days.

The only bridges leading to her community in southern British Columbia collapsed Monday under the weight of flooding and dirt generated by two days of heavy rain.

“I left the community to go into town to collect a few things,” she told Global News.

“I was only gone maybe a few hours. By the time I got down to the exit where our bridge enters our community, it had already fallen.”

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Between 14 and 15 November, an atmospheric river soaked the southern part of the province and engulfed houses, cars and critical infrastructure.

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One person is dead, four people are missing and thousands have been displaced.

Nooaitch First Nation is located in the southern interior of BC, about 20 kilometers east of Merritt.

When Michel left the community on Monday, she was unsure if the band would order an evacuation. She left for Merritt with her two sons just before the bridges collapsed.

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“The first thing that occurred to me… was that I did not want to see the rest of my family and I thought, when will I ever see them again?” Nla’kapamux Nations health administration representative told Global News.

“We all got up in a corner, looked down, and we saw the bridge half in the water. We just stood there in shock. Quite emotional at the time. “

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Michel and her sons have been staying at a Trans Mountain labor camp in Merritt, but about 130 people on Nooaitch First Nation are now locked inside – some without power and dwindling supplies.

About a third of them are children.

The damage to Highway 8 is extensive, and the community has reported that at least four homes were destroyed by the floods.

At least four homes were destroyed by flooding in Nooaitch First Nation between November 14 and 15, 2021.

Courtesy: Nooaitch First Nation members

Michel said she is grateful to have contacted her husband as her niece has a power generator.

Helicopters have flown in to evacuate those who lost their homes or need medical attention, and crews are working to restore one of three bridges to the community, she added.

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“I thought it would not happen for a long time. Hopefully I can go home.”

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Meanwhile, Nooaitch First Nation gathers resources, cooks for each other and even celebrates birthdays. The same thing is happening in the Trans Mountain camp, she added, where members of various First Nations have been stranded.

The floodwaters are sinking at Nooaitch, and Michel hopes she will soon be able to hug her family.

The province and the federal government must act now to curb the climate crisis, she added, so that disasters like this do not become the new normal.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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