Sydney flood victims look to future on one year anniversary
A year ago residents in Sydney were being evacuated from their homes as rising flood waters poured in, but this year they’re looking forward to the future of their resilient neighbourhood.
While setting the table for a turkey dinner on Monday, Terry Drohan recalls last year’s Thanksgiving when he and his family nearly lost everything.
"It was around the same time we were eating, actually. Fast-forward a couple of hours and we were scrambling to try to get rescued out of our home,” says Drohan.
A flash flood that brought in a record 225 millimetres of rain poured down on Cape Breton on Oct. 10, 2016.
This Thanksgiving, Drohan says the contrast couldn’t be any starker with sunny skies and temperatures above 25 degrees.
CBRM councilor, Ray Paruch says last year’s Thanksgiving storm was a nightmare as the water receded and the flood’s devastation was revealed.
"Where do we go from here? My life is wiped out. My home is gone. My community is ruined,” he remembers.
Many who lost their homes in the storm have settled into new ones now, but some have taken a financial hit and are still looking for ways to recoup their losses.
Drohan says one year later, things are starting to shape up, but he got through the past year with a lot of help from others.
"We did have people who kicked in and we're thankful for the people who helped out,” Drohan says. “Everything from neighbours, to even the government agencies for what they did. They still fell a little bit short on some things, but I don't want to dwell on that today. It’s more of a day of thanks."
Those still living in the area say the diminished value of their homes is a tough reminder of last year’s flood. Paruch says this issue needs to be addressed so that the neighbourhood can start a new chapter.
"What can we do to maintain the value? Instill pride again in the community that it's not a bad place to live and there is no plan now,” he says.
While more homes are on a list to be demolished, at least one property owner in the flood zone is rebuilding. Paruch says he hopes the neighbourhood can one day be restored to all that it was before.
There has been talk in the community about turning the area into a no development zone, but Drohan feels infrastructure improvements should be made to the brook that overflowed last year.
"My hope is they follow through on their word to create a nice green zone,” he says. "It’s a beautiful piece of property."
This Thanksgiving, Drohan says he still has a lot to be thankful for.
"This year I’ve got my family here and we're all together, putting together a nice meal. The thoughts are there, the memories are there, but we're really grateful,” he says. “We're really thankful."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.