Ahousaht declares state of emergency after water main break

“We've never said no to helping anyone out and we're just kindly asking for this favour to be returned."

West Coast communities are urged to help Ahousaht out after the Nation was cut off from its water supply on Friday.

Ahousaht needs our help.

The remote First Nation, located roughly 20 kilometres north of Tofino, spent the weekend without running water after a water main break on Friday. A state of emergency was declared Saturday morning, according to Ahousaht deputy chief councillor Patti Charleson.

“We have one pipe running from our water treatment plant to our community and it broke right below the plant,” Charleson told the Westerly News. “We had no water at all for a while there.”

Nation staff and volunteers tackled the break over the weekend and a bypass was created around the treatment plant Monday morning but that water is coming directly from the dam and is not potable.

Ahousaht’s council has been working diligently to evacuate the Nation’s elders to Ahousaht’s Lone Cone campground, where there is water, and to neighbouring Tofino.

“They’re providing accommodations and meals and water taxi rides there,” Charleson said. “We are evacuating our elders and critical care community members…We’re just doing our best to ensure that their safety and health needs are met.”

Volunteers have been distributing bottled water to those still in Ahousaht and Charleson is asking the West Coast to send much-needed donations to the Nation during this time of need. Anyone willing to help out is encouraged to contact Charleson at aboo_19@msn.com or 250-670-9531.

“We help out as many people as we can as often as we can,” she said. “We’ve never said no to helping anyone out and we’re just kindly asking for this favour to be returned so we can ensure our communities are healthy and safe.”

She said the Nation has reached out to Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Victoria for the parts needed to fix the break but the area where it occurred is below sea level further complicating the work.

“We’ve got to work with the tide and we don’t have anymore low, low tides until Dec. 27,” she said. “We’re working on it. We’ve got people sandbagging so we can create an enclosure around it.”

She added volunteers and neighbouring communities have provided generous support.

“It’s been a good effort from everyone that’s been helping,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for all the support we’ve received.”