Oak Bay taxpayers will likely pay a portion of restoration costs after a broken water line flooded a residential neighbourhood and forced the evacuation of nearly an entire block.
A water line burst during a routine fire-hydrant replacement around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, swamping most of the 2200-block Bowker Avenue, off Eastdowne Road.
Homes were still without power Wednesday evening as residents got through the first day of cleanup efforts and assessed damage.
Costs could be at least $50,000 for Pete Andrew, a tree faller who drove home from Port McNeil after seeing his house on the television news Tuesday night.
Im pretty sure Oak Bays ... going to take care of quite a bit of [the cost], he said, standing in the nearly empty basement suite where his daughter lived.
Just 24 hours before, couches and boxes of Christmas decorations were floating on about a metre of water.
Neighbours and firefighters used generators to pump water out of basements Tuesday, allowing restoration crews inside homes on Wednesday.
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen recognizes taxpayers will likely have to pay for a share of damage to homes.
That will come later, in terms of how the cost of the damages are shared between private insurance and the municipality, he said.
Oak Bays emergency fund provides three nights of accommodation for evacuees who could not return home.
About a dozen homes were hit by water damage, including three suites in an apartment building. A handful of residents may not be able to return home for weeks.
Zoe Bradshaws home was one of the hardest hit, with early damage estimates reaching about $40,000. Bradshaw, who lives with partner Martin Scaia and their three children, covered her eyes with a trembling hand as she stood in her backyard, watching crews document the damage.
The childrens bedrooms in the basement were destroyed, with beds and furniture sopping wet. Scaias an independent builder and all the tools in his shed were destroyed by the water.
[The water] just kept coming and coming and coming and coming and didnt stop, Bradshaw said.
Restoration could take up to eight weeks, making the family increasingly upset and anxious.
It stinks upstairs, its unbelievable how much it stinks, she said. I dont know what were going to do. Where are we supposed to stay?
Neighbours criticized Oak Bays public works crew for not calling in firefighters until more than two hours after the water-line break. The fire department called in B.C. Hydro to turn off the power.
Jensen has asked his staff to conduct a full review of what happened, but early assessments indicate homes were flooding within half an hour.
Well look for things we can do better and change our policy and practices accordingly, Jensen said.
B.C. Hydro will restore power once inspectors deem that to be safe.
Pin in map shows location of water line break:
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