There’s a considerable irony to the ‘stay at home’ orders resulting from the constant threat of COVID-19 for Jolie Jamison and Jason McEwan. They don’t have a home anymore.
Along with some other residents of Westholme and members of the Halalt Community impacted by a Feb. 1 flood that engulfed the area, they’re still homeless nearly three months later.
It’s been a long ordeal even attempting to become remotely reestablished. They initially spent one night at the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s emergency centre and then have been living like nomads ever since, going from house to house. They’re grateful to McEwan’s mom and stepfather for taking them in during the last month and will remain with them until they’re able to get back to their own home.
It’s already been a long haul to this point after their residence sustained extensive damage in the flood. They’ve lived on the 2 1/2 acre site once owned by McEwan’s dad for three years and just bought the place two years ago.
Jamison and McEwan know there’s others among their neighbours and the Halalt community who are still in the same boat after this long and actually worse off than them. They feel for them as well, based on how tough their own situation has been.
“With all going on in our world I hate to complain, however, we are still homeless because of the flood in Westholme,” Jamison indicated. “No one is giving us help for rebuilding our house.”
Jamison and McEwan are both on disability and have maxed out their credit card trying to pay for the essential repairs to septic, the water system, electrical and such things as ripping out the old drywall before even getting close to rebuilding. It’s all become quite overwhelming.
“We’ve done most of the work ourselves,” Jamison pointed out.
Work that’s been required to call in professional electricians or plumbers is extremely expensive.
They applied for disaster assistance funding, but it wasn’t nearly enough and they launched an appeal. Home insurance did not offer any coverage, declining them due to an “Act of God.”
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Jamison conceded. “There’s not enough money there to rebuild it.”
They salvaged very few possessions from the flood and those items are contained in an 8x10 storage unit on the property that comes with a monthly fee.
“We’re going to have to replace almost everything,” said Jamison. “It adds up and adds up.”
Many clothing and other personal effects were ruined. “We had to throw out so many clothes and shoes,” Jamison noted.
“Most of everything we own had to go to the garbage can.”
They’ve had to jack up their home two feet higher to possibly prevent another future occurrence.
The worst part of the floods was the impact of other properties in the vicinity.
The septic backed up and it was “not just in our house, but the neighbours,” said Jamison. “The farm across from us, all their stuff was in our yard, too, and it’s not just water.”
Black mold inside the house is a huge issue that’s not easy to resolve. They’re still trying to find out how to deal with that.
“Everything has to be gutted out,” said Jamison of the building.
“We feel bad for the other neighbours, too. Last we spoke to them, they’re still in hotels.”
The flood in the early morning hours of Feb. 1 is still etched in their minds. They had precious little time to get out when the flood waters came pouring in.
With assistance from firefighters, Jamison said they had no more than two minutes to get out, enough to grab their dog and cat and to leave with their gumboots and housecoats on.
“I didn’t even realize what was going on,” she said of the 2:30 a.m. wake-up call that’s far beyond what anyone can comprehend.
Jamison and McEwan have exhausted all avenues for assistance. “As far as I know, I did everything I can,” said Jamison.
The current health crisis has caused a double dose of hardship for them.
“I know COVID-19 has taken over the world now. I want to smile and have joy in life.”
With the home gutted, Jamison has accentuated the positive from that.
“The refreshing part of it is seeing it all empty and down to nothing, I can do whatever want with it now.”