Graham Zillwood is a guy who believes in going through life with a smile.
But it’s nearly impossible for the Hope man to put a positive spin on the last seven months. Zillwood’s life was devastated by last November’s flooding. His house and possessions were washed away by the raging Coquihalla River, and $30,000 he received from insurance is a drop in the bucket.
Zillwood turned to the provincial government for aid through the Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) program.
As of Monday (May 16) he said he’s received not a penny.
“I’m trying to smile, but I tell you, it’s not looking good,” Zillwood said. “It looks like I’m screwed.”
The 67-year-old pensioner has hit a wall in every direction he’s turned, and another blow came Monday when he was told the provincial government will not be buying his property. There was thought in January that the government might do so to facilitate a re-routing of Othello Road.
“But I guess they’re not doing that now,” he said.
Zillwood was already told by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) that the property will never have a home built on it again, leaving him to make mortgage payments on “a piece of gravel that’s useless,” and is now assessed at $1.
“The mortgage company says they’ll defer the mortgage payments, but they never have,” Zillwood said. “I’m paying the mortgage, so I can’t afford rent, and even if I didn’t have the mortgage payments, all I’ve got is my pension and I still couldn’t afford rent.
“I don’t know what to do. I’m at a complete loss. It’s hard to be optimistic at this point because there’s nothing to hold on to.”
Enbridge, an Alberta-based pipeline company, has been renting Zillwoods’ and a neighboring property to build a temporary road, as they repair a pipeline that runs between the two properties.
“That started in January, and they’re still using the properties to varying degrees,” he said. “They’re the only ones that have been decent and fair through this, and at least it’s given me some income to help with the mortgage payments.”
Zillwood has entered the ‘grasping at straws’ stage.
He remains hopeful he will get DFA money, but he doesn’t expect much, especially if the provincial government deducts the $30,000 he received from insurance.
Zillwood has been staying with family in Rosedale, taking his young granddaughter’s bedroom.
“I’ve got to move out of here because it’s not fair to my kids and my grandkids to be here, taking up a room,” he said. “I feel so bad being here, but I don’t know what to do. You work all your life and all of a sudden everything’s gone. And it’s too late at my age to get anything back.”
“It was the wrong time of my life for this to happen, and all I’m doing now is playing with my grandkids, hanging out and waiting for good news.”
Zillwood said he’s still ticking though, “just not as hard.”
He knows lots of people suffered from the flooding, and he’s trying his best to stay optimistic.
“All I can do is hope, and the support I’ve received from people has meant the world to me,” he said. “There’s some things more important that money, although money is kind of handy.”