Tussie Road resident Joe Seward stands atop one of the Hesco bags filled with gravel and stones to form a wall along the portion of the Westholme neighbourhood to guard against future flood waters. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Tussie Road resident Joe Seward stands atop one of the Hesco bags filled with gravel and stones to form a wall along the portion of the Westholme neighbourhood to guard against future flood waters. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Guarding against the next atmospheric river

Penelakut’s walls of defence will provide comfort for the community

Where there’s a wall, there’s a way.

The Tussie Road Penelakut Tribe community has been standing tall despite massive flooding in November, but now it’s been fortified with walls of defense to guard against future repeat occurrences.

Related story: Insane amount of rain hits the region

A Hesco wall has been built on one side of the neighbourhood, utilizing numerous bags filled with rocks and gravel and linked together.

“We ran it all the way out to 280 metres,” said Joe Seward, the unofficial neighbourhood ambassador who remained out of his own home many days after the latest flood but continued to coordinate the work required to alleviate the situation.

The wall also stands about four feet high so it provides a solid barrier against rising waters that have been commonplace in the region.

“The schedule is to leave it in for the winter and take it out in the summer,” explained Seward.

It can, however, remain in place for up to a year if needed and that will provide time for crucial dredging work to be done.

“Once we prove the point this works, we have something to go with,” added Seward.

Gravel was excavated by Cowichan Tribes near the black bridge in Duncan and it got put to good re-use on Tussie Road.

Seward was confident in the structure but you can never be completely sure until the next heavy rainfall comes.

“Water always wins,” he conceded. “If there’s a weak spot in the wall, it’ll find it.”

Crews worked on the wall till dusk Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of the next atmospheric river that fortunately did not hit Westholme hard.

A Tiger dam has also been constructed at the back end of Tussie Road along Bonsall Creek.

The flexible tubes were filled with water pumped out of the creek and stacked in two rows.

“Fight water with water,” reasoned Seward.

It seems odd, but he pointed out that’s exactly what workers do to combat wildfires, fighting fire with fire.

The Tiger dam will be left in until the spring.

The Penelakut and nearby Halalt First Nation have been careful to coordinate their actions because one remedy can lead to another potential problem with flooding.

“Every action has a reaction,” summed up Seward of the planning required.

B.C. Floods 2021Construction

 

Joe Seward at the site of a two-level Tiger dam protecting homes in the Penelakut Tribe’s Tussie Road neighbourhood from Bonsall Creek when it overflows. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Joe Seward at the site of a two-level Tiger dam protecting homes in the Penelakut Tribe’s Tussie Road neighbourhood from Bonsall Creek when it overflows. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Billy George, left, and Joe Seward atop the Hesco wall that now covers 280 metres along the outside of Tussie Road neighbourhood to protect against future flood waters. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Billy George, left, and Joe Seward atop the Hesco wall that now covers 280 metres along the outside of Tussie Road neighbourhood to protect against future flood waters. (Photo by Don Bodger)

It’s a bright sunny day for the completion of the Hesco wall Friday and the building up of the land around it. (Photo by Joe Seward)

It’s a bright sunny day for the completion of the Hesco wall Friday and the building up of the land around it. (Photo by Joe Seward)