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First Nation families near Port Alberni evacuate in anticipation of flooding

Flooding began to affect the Tseshaht First Nation on Nov. 3.
Flooding began to affect the Tseshaht First Nation on Nov. 3. Global News

Residents of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, B.C. are bracing themselves for the possibility of more flooding as a heavy storm moved over Vancouver Island Sunday night.

Seven families were evacuated from their homes Sunday in anticipation of the storm. It is the second or third time each of them has been evacuated over the last one-and-a-half weeks.

The community has been on a flood watch for several days as a series of storms have hit Vancouver Island.

“It is very trying,” said Tseshaht council member and emergency preparedness chair Hugh Braker. “It’s been going it seems like forever. This is unusual for us to get such a long string of storms.”

WATCH: The Tseshaht First Nation faces flooding 

Click to play video: 'Flood warning still in effect for Port Alberni' Flood warning still in effect for Port Alberni
Flood warning still in effect for Port Alberni – Nov 9, 2016

On Nov. 4, the Tseshaht First Nation declared a state of emergency as the Somass River started to rise. The Tseshaht school was closed, a boil water advisory was issued for about half of the reserve and, early this week, eleven families were evacuated from their homes.

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Then, so much rain was forecast for the weekend, that the community initially expected it would have to evacuate 11 families for a second time on Saturday, said Braker.

But rainfall was not as bad as expected and none of the families had to be moved Saturday.

Even so, the community reinforced sandbags that it had placed around homes to ensure they were strong enough to continue keeping water at bay, Braker said.

He added that part of the reserve remains under a boil water advisory because the water lines for the houses are covered by flood waters, while members of the reserve with high medical needs have been moved to Port Alberni to prepare for possible flooding.

Residents of Campbell River also braced themselves for possible flooding Sunday. More than 100 property owners in low-lying parts of the city were warned to prepare.

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