Family recounts night their bedrooms flooded and the response days after

Displaced Abbotsford family being supported by Telus, which may have had hand in broken water main

This home was flooded by a broken water main early Saturday morning

Dorian Clark was jolted awake by a loud bang shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 22-year-old carpenter looked out his open bedroom door to see water rushing down the hallway towards him.

“Is this really happening? Is this really happening?” he said to himself. “Are you serious?”

Moments later, his mattress had become a raft, floating around his bedroom. He heard a sparking noise and began unplugging electronics from the wall. Afraid of electric shocks from the water, he didn’t want to get off the bed.

Clark’s cousin, Conner Blyan-Labiche, woke in much the same way in the adjacent bedroom.

He ran down the hallway and tried to get out the door to the garage, but the water rushing in prevented that. He went upstairs and out the front door with his mom, Tracey Blyan, and younger siblings, Arianna and Jamario.

By this time, Clark was still floating on his mattress four or more feet above the ground.

A police officer, who had had been driving by, spotted a geyser submerging the area and home. He knocked on the front door to alert the family and came around to Dorian’s window.

The officer was about to break the window to get him out, but Dorian was able to open it and crawl out.

As the family gathered outside, they saw the source of the flooding: a water main between the home’s property and Jackson Street had burst, and thousands of gallons of water were gushing out, turning their yard into a lake.

“I didn’t know what to think … by the time I got out, the whole lawn was covered and we were almost knee-deep in water,” said Tracey Blyan, who had just moved herself, her three kids (Conner, Arianna and Jamario) and nephew (Dorian) into the central Abbotsford home less than two weeks before.

The family spoke to The News Sunday afternoon, as they picked through the muddy debris in their basement. Dorian’s collection of baseball hats, which were hanging high on the wall, were virtually his only belongings not soaked and muddied.

Dorian and Conner lost a gaming console and TV each. Their beds and couches are unsalvageable. Dorian picked through his clothing, laying it on the front lawn, hoping the items will be wearable after they’re washed and dried.

They had no rental insurance.

“I’m lost,” Tracey said, on Sunday. “I’m hurt because my kids have nothing. We have nothing left. I don’t know where to go.”

The family has been staying in a local motel, paid for by Emergency Social Services.

A restoration company, called in by the landlord, has informed Tracey that it will be an estimated three months before the lower floor is livable again and work can’t start until she completely clears it of the debris and soaked furniture and appliances.

On Tuesday morning, Tracey told The News she didn’t know how she would get the job done.

But hours later, she had a happy update she described as “the best news ever.”

A representative from Telus told her the company would be taking care of all their needs.

According to Tracey, this includes replacements for Conner’s glasses and Dorian’s work clothes; rent in a temporary new home; hiring a crew and renting bins to clear out the basement and store unaffected furniture and belongings from top floor; and food vouchers and bus passes to get the family all to and from work and school.

Telus said the water main break appears to have been caused by a concrete-filled post installed on Oct. 18 to protect its equipment.

“We’ve been told that our contractor did a proper ‘call-before-you-dig’ locate… and that the water main was not identified in that search,” said Telus spokesperson Richard Gilhooley, in an email.

“Nor was it visible during the excavation.

“We won’t let that uncertainty hamper recovery for the residents affected, and will ensure they are taken care of without delay.”

Gilhooley said Telus will be doing a full review of the incident to ensure it can avoid something similar from happening in the future.

The City of Abbotsford is also investigating the cause of the water main break, according to spokesperson Tracy Boudreau.

A GoFundMe for the family had raised $565 at time of writing, a link to which can be found on AbbyNews.com.

 

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