Photo: The Canadian Press
Mario Loutef cleans up on Saturday after his home in Princeton was flooded.
Mario Loutef slept little for the four days leading up to Saturday, when he piled up his ruined belongings in the street outside his Princeton home.
Much of the downtown area in the community, two hours south of Kamloops, was decimated when the Tulameen River overflowed, flooding homes and forcing people to evacuate.
The community still has an evacuation alert, but for many, like Loutef, the damage couldn’t get any bigger.
“It went around the corner and then it was like a tsunami because it filled the little streets on the way here. But once that was settled, the water took care of my space and everyone else on the road,” he told The Canadian Press .
A thin layer of black mud has covered everything on the first floor of the house. Loutef has been working around the clock since he got access. Planks have been ripped from walls, a dirty line about 6 feet high on the wall shows how deep the water was.
“I’ve lost everything. We’ve lost everything, the wife and I. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where it’s going to end,” says Loutef, who has lived in the house for four years.
“I’m trying to save my tools, which is my bread and butter, because if I don’t have that, I can’t earn the income. I’m pretty much in the doldrums…pun intended.”
The streets in the area are closed to traffic. Suction trucks attempt to remove standing water from some basements. The streets and sidewalks are covered in mud.
“It’s like a one-man fight,” said Loutef, who was working alone.
“I remember my wife saying ‘Don’t forget to take your shoes off’ so I’ll have to show her. She didn’t want to come down because she’s going through a shock. She said there is no smoking in the house too,” he said, dropping a cigarette butt to the floor.
Heaps of rubble are everywhere, but Lisa Brosseau and her husband Brian Quinn had friends come over to help.
Brosseau said that despite their basement being flooded, she was lucky because a previous owner had the house redone after a flood 35 years ago.
“We had a new Airbnb suite and it’s gone, but the rest of our house is good. It never made it to the top. We have our house. A lot of people around here don’t have that and it’s really hard,” said Brosseau.
Quinn pointed out where the water entered the basement.
“You can see it came down the back door and blew the door open and ripped the door frame apart, and inside it swirled like some kind of whirlpool, and everything was packed up and smashed,” Quinn said, pointing to the basement.
“The power of water is incredible.”
Brosseau said she was afraid there would be a flood despite the sandbagging and saw it happen.
“We were down the street and there was a boom and a bang and it came over the banks,” she said.
Many Princeton residents went from house to house to lend a hand to those less fortunate.
“Our city is great,” said Britanny Antonick.
“It’s devastating. I think it’s still a shock at this point. All the basements are just completely saturated. We’re just trying to do our best.”