Grand Forks resident releases documentary on 2018 flood

‘Our stories need to be told […] It’s a small town and the impact was immense’

There are anchor points in May 2018 that people in the Boundary can call back to: when they first saw sandbags hit the streets, when their yards got soggy with groundwater and for some it may be when the river started lapping at their front door.

While people were shovelling and moving things to higher ground, Grand Forks resident Jennifer Houghton grabbed a camera too, as her own home was being flooded by more drastic levels than it had the year before.

“When the flood hit and people weren’t prepared, I saw the shock and devastation that I had already been through,” she said. “I thought, ‘You know what? Our stories need to be told,’ because I saw what was happening here. It’s a small town and the impact was immense. I thought this was a story that other people can learn from, and other communities can learn from. I think this story is definitely worth telling.”

For the last two years – including during the peak of the emergency in 2018 – Houghton has been talking to neighbours and community members to make a documentary of the May 2018 flood. Last month, she began releasing one half-hour episode per week on the Grand Forks Flood Documentary YouTube channel.

Naturally, Houghton recognizes that the series she has put together could be a bit too much for some.

“There are some people in Grand Forks who are not going to want to rewatch it and relive it and that’s absolutely understandable,” Houghton said, “but there are also people who will. There are also people in our community who will get something out of rewatching it one of the things that came out of this is how so many local people are our heroes.”

Early episodes take viewers into the lives of her neighbours in May 2018, as the reckon with the damage the water did to their homes. In those moments, she – and in turn the viewer – gets to know members of a community who otherwise may have had little in common.

“I came to meet people that I’d never met before,” Houghton said. “And I came to see that even people that I might have differing political views from – they’re very good people and they’ll reach out to help other human beings. I came to see the humanity and the caring and the compassion in my neighbours and friends and strangers.”

It’s one of the two major lessons the Grand Forks resident says she learned: that coming together for support is essential for survival in a small community and that governments need to shift to look at prevention instead of reaction when it comes to disasters and crisis. Though not released yet, Houghton said that later episodes in the series will explore some of the potential precipitating factors for the extreme waters in 2018.

Understanding people’s stories can help understand where they sit now, and Houghton hopes that viewers of her documentary will gain an understanding of why she and others are passionate about ensuring that such an event doesn’t befall Grand Forks or another community again.

“I think it would be great if people [realized] that the flood had an enormous impact on our community – not just the people who were flooded – but it had an economic impact. It had a social impact. It had a cultural impact.”

Anyone can watch Houghton’s videos by searching “Grand Forks Flood Documentary” on YouTube.

flooding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Not technically feasible’: Grand Forks volunteers stack sandbags to fill in damaged dike

Residents hoped governments would do emergency repairs, but learned Sunday that it was up to them

Boundary freshet 2020: At least 189 properties ordered to evacuate as of June 1

Real-time gauges on the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers suggested Monday water near peak

Flood warning issued for Boundary as Kettle River expected to rise to 20-year return level

RDKB: This amounts to a high flood risk for low-lying properties in the region

SD 51 students are allowed to return to school this week – under very different rules

School on June 1 and June 2 was cancelled due to the local state of emergency

UPDATED: 189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment in schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Most Read