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Grand Forks resident still recovering from historic 2018 flood

Barbara McLelland says her home is still under repair 11 months after Grand Forks, B.C., was hit by historic flooding in May 2018.
Barbara McLelland says her home is still under repair 11 months after Grand Forks, B.C., was hit by historic flooding in May 2018. Global News

It’s been 11 months since catastrophic flooding engulfed the small city of Grand Forks, B.C.

In that time, area resident Barbara McClelland has been forced to live without many things that most people take for granted: flooring, drywall and cabinets, to name a few.

McClelland’s one-storey, 926-square-foot home is approximately three blocks from the Kettle River. Despite that seemingly safe distance, she said there were four feet of water in her yard during peak flooding in 2018.

READ MORE: A long road to flood recovery in Grand Forks

“I had about 18 inches of water inside the house,” McClelland told Global News. “The water was in the oven of my stove and in the bottom freezer of my fridge.

“I lost all my appliances. Right now, I had a fridge donated but I was able to buy a new stove. I don’t have any cupboards. We had to tear out all the floors and rebuild them.”

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For McClelland, the rebuilding process has dragged on far too long.

“I’m just surprised that it’s taken so long for any help,” said McClelland, who says she has received $40,000 in provincial funding — enough to cover some of her rebuilding costs but not all. “We’re almost at a year now.”

WATCH (May 14, 2018): An aerial view of the flood that swamped Grand Forks

Aerial view of Grand Forks flooding on Monday
Aerial view of Grand Forks flooding on Monday

McClelland says that when she bought her home seven years ago, it was mostly restored, with only the windows needing to be replaced. McClelland put money into the home and then the flood hit.

“Lots of people were in this position: our houses had all been redone. Mine was all renovated,” said McClelland . “I had put in new windows and everything in. I had nothing left to do to my house.

“I ended up having to replace all my electrical, my plumbing. I didn’t have enough money to put my house back together from what I got from the government.”

According to the provincial government, financial flood assistance was made available to affected Grand Forks residents through a new program.

The Household Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) reportedly provided nine rounds of financial assistance, from July 2018 to March 2019. The program was to “assist primary residence households that have been deemed uninhabitable by the local government.”

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The government added that assistance may be available for homeowners who have not received disaster financial assistance from the province, or for tenants experiencing financial hardship.

WATCH (June 9, 2018): Some Grand Forks homes deemed uninhabitable

Grand Forks homes uninhabitable
Grand Forks homes uninhabitable

McClelland figures she’s $20,000 short of having her home rebuilt.

According to McClelland, local church members have offered free labour if she can fund the supplies.

McClelland said that immediately after the flooding, she moved in with her son in nearby Greenwood for six months while her home was deemed uninhabitable. The only reason she moved back home was to prevent possible theft.

She claims people were breaking into empty and abandoned homes after the flooding.

WATCH (March 20, 2019): As flood preparations get underway in Grand Forks, many residents face an uncertain future

As flood preparations get underway in Grand Forks, many residents face an uncertain future
As flood preparations get underway in Grand Forks, many residents face an uncertain future

“That’s the only reason I’m back in my home,” said McClelland. “I’m living out of boxes.

“And I consider myself one of the luckier ones. There are people worse off than I am.”

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