Water from burst water main in Langford ‘looked like a tsunami coming toward our house’

The water gushed into Gail Kendall’s Langford home, coming in through the garage door, flooding bedrooms, ruining stored sentimental items and Christmas decorations.

“It was just puking water out, just puking everywhere,” said Kendall, who lives on Strathmore Road. “I screamed to my husband ‘water, water.’ He came downstairs and it was awful. We opened the front door and it literally looked like a tsunami coming towards our house.”

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A Capital Regional District water distribution main broke about 8 p.m. Tuesday on Strathmore at Goldstream Avenue, flooding houses, townhouses, the ground floor of a condominium building, and several businesses. An underground parking garage was also flooded.

A B.C. Transit bus was brought in to provide shelter for people forced from their homes who didn’t have alternate accommodation. Some went to hotels, others bunked with neighbours while others stayed up most of the night to sort out their insurance and immediate remediation work.

“When you see that amount of water coming at you it’s terrifying,” said Kendall, whose 69-year-old mother, undergoing cancer treatments, had to be escorted out of the home by firefighters.

Repair crews managed to turn off the flow about 9 p.m.

“We looked outside and it was just a river of water — it was a river going down the road and into our house,” said Gail’s husband, Todd Kendall. “It was like we were in a movie. It still hasn’t really sunk in.”

The couple grabbed buckets and tried to bail water into sinks and gather belongings off the floor “but there was no stopping it.” Water began seeping through the foundation. “They told us we had to leave our house and turn the power off.”

The family left their house in gumboots but the water came up higher than the boots.

Kendall’s truck, parked in the driveway, was half covered in water, but he was able to get it running.

The family of six — Todd, Gail, their two children and Gail’s parents — is now looking for a temporary place to live. Two basement bedrooms are soaked as well as the laundry and furnace room.

Lance May measured four inches of water in the basement of his home on Strathmore and more than a foot outside his basement door.

He stood in a basement bedroom Wednesday surveying the damage — carpets torn out, a wide variety of electronics and furniture ruined, a treadmill destroyed.

May and his wife live with their two daughters and a visiting student from China, whose bedrooms were flooded.

They are considering having the family camp out in the living room, but that might not be realistic.

With drywall having to be torn out and other major repairs, May has been told it will be at least a month before the work is completed, while his neighbours have been told it will take several months.

May is hopeful that the CRD’s insurance will cover at least the $2,000 deductible he’ll need to pay before his home insurance kicks in. Others are expecting the district to pay more.

Sue Goodwill and her husband, Kevin Goodwill, couldn’t find a hotel room Tuesday night and were taken in by a neighbour in their townhome complex.

When the water started coming through their ground-level townhome door, she tried to block it, but it started seeping through the wall. She tried to get everything of value off the floor, but forgot about paintings stored under her bed.

“My husband heard noise outside, looked out and said ‘there’s a lake coming to our house,’ ” Goodwill said.

“My husband is an incredible guy and he just went to help everybody, banging on doors and letting everyone know what was happening.

“Our place is completely flooded and he’s out helping people trying to move cars from the basement because we have underground parking,” Goodwill said.

“I was inside trying to keep the water out but it was coming in through the walls,” she said. “It got to the point that you had to throw your hands up in the air and say ‘we did everything we could to stop it from coming in.’ ”

The Goodwills have been here just more than a year after spending a decade in Ontario and had their townhome just as they wanted it. “I lost my home,” Goodwill said.

A pickup truck parked over the water main when it burst fell into a sinkhole created by the surge of water.

Shawn Pomeroy, a townhome neighbour who is an artist, rushed to grab his keyboard, guitar and paintings, but could not save it all. He was left with numerous warped paintings in the aftermath.

Water filled the split-level ground-level townhome and ran down the stairs to the basement leaving only an upper floor dry.

Pomeroy said it would almost be easier if there was someone to blame but, like others, he said it’s just one of those things.

After fixing the water main, the Capital Regional District temporarily paved Strathmore Road at Goldstream. It will wait until spring for permanent paving.

“They’ve done a really good job of cleaning it up, considering how much water was out there last night,” said Michelle Mahovlich, director of engineering for the City of Langford.

Many of the residents of the area who experienced flooding contacted their home insurers on Tuesday night.

Restoration companies were at some homes until the early hours on Wednesday ripping up soaked carpets and installing commercial dryers and dehumidifiers.

A boil-water advisory for the area will be removed by Island Health when the drinking water no longer poses a concern.

The CRD confirmed Wednesday that there is no public health risk for the region due to potential water main contamination resulting from the break.

Despite a sleepless night and the destruction of many personal items, all of the residents interviewed stressed the most important story is that no one was hurt and that most “stuff” can be replaced.

Ted Robbins, general manager of integrated water services for the Capital Regional District, said residents should first direct inquiries to their own insurers, and then the CRD will work with insurance companies as required to address further issues.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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