It makes no sense to Robie Holland that as 10 inches of rain fell in rural Nova Scotia, there was nothing stopping his father from traveling on a rapidly flooding highway.
“Why was the road open? That’s the main question I keep coming back to… It was flooding and it wasn’t safe for people to go on those roads. Why, if you’re in rural communities?” Is it a free-for-all?” She asked in an interview on Friday.
“In my eyes, this was an avoidable situation.”
Nicholas Holland, 52, was one of four people killed in the historic inland flood on July 22, when torrential waters spilled onto Rural Route 14 near Brooklyn, NS, northwest of Halifax, washing away two vehicles to a hay field.
Robie Holland, 25, and his sister Sophie Holland, 23, said in an interview that while they are grateful for the searchers’ efforts that night, an independent investigation is needed to answer questions about the response to the flood disaster. .
Questions include why there was a delay after a request at 1:22 a.m. from the deputy chief of the Brooklyn volunteer fire department for an alert alert telling drivers to stay off the road. The alert was sent out by provincial emergency management officials at 3:06 a.m., about half an hour after police said the taxi carrying Holland and three other people plunged into the water.
“If they were stranded on the highway and they got an alert that said, ‘Don’t go down in this area,’ they wouldn’t have gone there. They’re going to change their plans,” Robie Holland said. .
what happened to holland
Holland’s two sons said they learned from survivor accounts that after their father, a rock musician, finished playing a show in Windsor, NS, in the early morning of July 22, he and his girlfriend they left for their residence in the vicinity of St. Cruz. However, his partner’s car stopped in the water accumulated on the road.
The Holland brothers say the two hailed a cab and the driver continued on to their residence. As the cab rounded a corner on Route 14, rough water swept it into a hayfield.
Robie Holland said his father, who had a damaged knee from an accident years earlier, still managed to kick out the car’s windows, allowing the four inside to escape the sinking vehicle. “He gave everyone a chance to survive,” he said.
The son said his father’s girlfriend and the taxi driver managed to grab hold of objects that prevented them from being swept away, but the driver’s daughter, Terri-Lynn Keddy, 14, was swept away by the current, as was Holland, who was he is not a strong swimmer.
Since then, searchers have recovered the bodies of Holland and Keddy. Two six-year-old children, Colton Sisco and Natalie Harnish, were killed when another vehicle went off the road at around the same time.
Robie and Sophie Holland said they take comfort in remembering their father’s efforts to help others and the dedication of the searchers who spent days searching for the bodies. “I’m sad, but thankful for them,” Sophie said.
But they say they remain concerned about the inability of the province and emergency management officials to react more quickly in rural areas.
Robie said that at 9pm on the night of the pouring rain, he was being turned away by police on the streets of Halifax, and this left him questioning why similar lockdowns were not put in place in West Hants Township, where his father died.
Meanwhile, Sophie Holland, a physiotherapist, said her generation faces deepening challenges from climate change and is seeking better preparedness from governments at all levels.
“[Political leaders] say ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,’ but if you had done something sooner, things might be different,” he said.
Blair Feltmate, director of the University of Waterloo’s Intact Center on Climate Adaptation, is among those calling for an independent review to examine gaps in Nova Scotia’s storm response. The center of it gave Nova Scotia a grade of C in a 2019 study that evaluated the flood preparedness of the provinces.
It noted that the province was the only province in Atlantic Canada delegating responsibility for floodplain mapping to local governments, and that the province “does not provide incentives for the relocation of developments from floodplain zones.”
Province says it will review
The province’s Department of Public Works said Friday it could not provide details about road closures during the storm. “Staff continue to work hard to restore access to damaged roads and bridges impacted by the extreme flooding,” spokesman Gary Andrea said. “We will review the actions taken over the weekend of July 21 once our work is complete.”
Sophie and Robie Holland say they are looking for improvements to make them happen quickly.
“We are prepared?” Sofia asked. “What changes are we going to make in the future? Obviously we weren’t ready for this.”
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