'It's like walking on Mars to me': B.C. senior still paying mortgage on 'not livable' property after November floods
Imagine paying the mortgage on a home that no longer exists, for a property that's now virtually worthless.
Such is the case for a senior from Hope, B.C., whose home was swept away, along with part of his property, during last November's floods.
“I can't afford to rent a home. I can't afford an apartment. I'm lost absolutely loss of what to do,” said Graham Zillwood.
Eighteen years ago, Zillwood purchased just over an acre of property along the Coquihalla River. But where there was once his home, lawn and gardens, there's now rocks, stumps and a river bed.
“It's like walking on Mars to me. It's hard to picture what was here,” he said while showing CTV News what was left of his property, which he describes as “not livable.”
“We've been told by Fraser Valley Regional district we can't live on it,” said the 67-year-old who narrowly escaped before the floods hit.
His property assessment for 2021 shows the value of his home and property, which was just over acre, at $445,000. He said it's now valued at $1.
He said after the flood, he contacted his mortgage company. He claimed the company verbally agreed to defer payments, but didn't.
“They never deferred. Every month they've been taking my payment. And I'm on old age pension,” he said.
CTV News contacted First National Financial LP, but it declined an interview for privacy reasons.
An email from the company's CFO, Robert Inglis, said in part, “We can assure you that First National cares about this customer and the hundreds of thousands of other Canadians who choose us as their lender.
"In the meantime, we continue to work with the borrower and insurers toward a solution satisfactory to all stakeholders in this unfortunate situation.”
Zillwood did have house insurance, however, he said the maximum he could be insured for “overland water” was about $30,000.
He put that payout entirely toward his outstanding mortgage.
Zillwood also said he's yet to receive any funds from the province.
He was recently approved for $100,000 in Disaster Financial Assistance, but says that won't be enough to rebuild and doesn't amount to the 80 per cent of his home value he had anticipated.
Emergency Management BC wouldn't comment on the specific case.
However, in an email it said, “To date, we have received more than 2,200 applications for DFA from individuals, small businesses, farms, charitable organizations, and local governments impacted by the November 2021 flooding.”
Typically, Emergency Management BC receives an average 450 applications a year.
EMBC said that so far, 949 DFA applications have been processed though not everyone was eligible for payment.
“So far, $7.5 million has now been paid out through DFA,” the email said.
Meanwhile, Zillwood has been living with his daughter and her family, having taken over his grandaughter's room.
“I can't stay there forever and it's not fair. She needs her bedroom back,” he said.
“I need a home but I just can't pay it while I'm doing the mortgage.”
An online fundraiser set up to help him has raised almost $18,000.
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