Cowichan Tribes has issued an evacuation order for two areas within the First Nation on Jan. 2, 2021. (screenshot)

Flooding causes evacuation order for Cowichan Tribes land; COVID-19 confirmed within First Nation

Cowichan Tribes issued an evacuation order for the Wil’seem Road and Sahilton Road areas

Cowichan Tribes issued an evacuation order for the Wil’seem Road and Sahilton Road areas near Duncan at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2.

There is an immediate danger to life and safety due to flooding in the area, the order said.

RCMP and other emergency response agencies carried out the order.

“You must leave the are immediately,” the order reads.

Residents were advised to take the safest travel route available to either the Oceanfront Suites in Cowichan Bay or Best Western Cowichan Valley Inn on Norcross Road.

People were told to make sure all of their gas and electrical appliances were shut off other than freezers and refrigerators before leaving, and that they should take critical items such as medicine, identification and pets with them.

“We understand that flooding and temporary relocations can be challenging and we are here to support members,” said the order, signed by Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour. “We are doing this to keep community members safe.”

If people had questions or were in need of assistance, they were asked to call 250-715-3339.

The Vancouver Island Crisis Line (1-888-494-3888) is also available at any time if you need to talk to someone.

Other areas are on evacuation alert as of 4:30 p.m. Saturday. They include Quamichan west, Clem Clem, Tyup Road, Joe Road, Green Point or Khenipson Road.

“Please consider leaving your home immediately if your safety is at risk or if flooding is about to happen near you. Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to a declared evacuation; however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions,” the alert reads.

“People with mobility issues are strongly encouraged to leave now and identify their transportation options. Accommodations options are available through Cowichan Tribes.”

COVID-19 complicated the flood response.

In a news release on the Cowichan Tribes website dated Jan. 1, it states that there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Cowichan Tribes community.

“This is a difficult time for all of us, and the next few weeks will be challenging. But we are a strong Nation, and we will get through this. Now, we all need to stay home, stay safe, and support each other. Let’s work together as a Nation to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our Sul’wheen and our loved ones,” Seymour said.

Cowichan Tribes residents were urged not to share vehicles between households as they leave the flood area, and to avoid going to other households in the community because of COVID-19.

The Jan. 1 release says that Cowichan Tribes members who have tested positive are self-isolating and are in regular contact with public health officials to receive guidance on health and safety protocols.

“Chief and Council and Cowichan Tribes’ Pandemic Response Team, under the direction of the General Manager and Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre, are leading the Pandemic Response. Our Nation is working closely with Island Health, First Nations Health Authority and public health officials to support contact tracing, monitor cases, and keep members safe,” the news release says.

“If the number of cases in our community grows, Chief and Council may implement additional safety measures and restrictions through our COVID-19 Community Protection Bylaw.

“Cowichan Tribes is urging all members to stay home, stay safe, and follow public health orders. We must work together as a Nation to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the release concludes.

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