Mission resident Kourtney Rylands reflects on the year since flood waters ripped her home upside down

On June 20, 2013, Kourtney Rylands became a homeowner for the first time.

Hours later, her condo in Mission would be submerged in more than five feet of water.

The Elbow River, which flows just east of Rylands’ building, peaked at 1,240 metres cubed per second, 12 times the regular rate and more than three times as fast as the flood of 2005 combined with the Bow River, which also peaked at more than three times the rate when compared to 2005.

Upon returning home for the first time, Rylands was met with destruction difficult to comprehend.

“It looked like a storm went through,” she said. “It ripped the cabinets off the walls, it took my island and put it vertical, the beds were upside down. “It was chaos. There’s some stuff I didn’t even find, it wasn’t even there to clean or throw out, it was just gone.”

Kourtney flood damage

In the process of rebuilding her home from the ground up, Rylands explained her condo management company came up with a quote for how much all the units were but she wanted to do things her own way.

“From the beginning I was really adamant that I wanted to do my own thing in my condo. I wanted my own contractor, I wanted a payout from the insurance company, I wanted to do everything myself.”

At first, Rylands was denied coverage from her insurance provider, but, after her step-dad, a plumber, was able to prove there was sewer backup and not just overland flooding, and her mom got both her personal and condo insurance companies talking, she received a payout in October 2013.

In the meantime, she was in the process of rebuilding.

“I think it took us a day and a half, two days, and just 30 people from around the neighbourhood coming to gut [the condo] and I got to swing a hammer at the walls which was very cathartic,” she said.

The space was dried with industrial driers and sprayed down with a mould-resistant coating. After that, an engineer was called in to ensure the foundation was secure. With her own personal contractor, Rylands took some specific measures such as steel studs and waterproof laminate. Almost five months after the flood hit, Rylands – who made her first mortgage payment from her parents’ basement where she was staying – was able to return home.

Settled in her new home today, Rylands said she looks at the river every day.

“I go down there and they’re shoring up the other bank and you look at our bank and basically the river’s the same height it was the day of the flood last year,” she said. “I don’t know what the province would do if it happened again and I would probably have a moving truck here. If we’re ever evacuated again I’ll be like ‘I don’t care. Everything’s coming with me.’ I’ll bring my countertop with me.”