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Residents displaced by a flood in a coastal reserve need financial help until they can move back into their homes, B.C. first nations leaders say.

Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs called for donations for about 100 people from the village of Kingcome Inlet, northeast of Knights Inlet.

Residents were airlifted to nearby Alert Bay last weekend after a river flooded its banks during torrential rain, damaging homes and infrastructure.

The flood was unlike anything the Dzawada'enuxw First Nation had seen in recent memory, Chief Phillip said Saturday.

"Even though the community was specifically designed for flood events, the downpour was so severe and the river came up so quickly that it pretty much wiped out the community," he said.

Chief Phillip said he and other aboriginal leaders are organizing a tour of Kingcome Inlet on Oct. 12 so federal government officials can survey the damage for themselves.

Bob Chamberlain, chief of a neighbouring first nation, said federal engineers have begun assessing the damage to 32 houses in the isolated community that is accessible only by boat and helicopter.

He said the challenges of getting material to the village and the extent of the damage means residents may not be able to return to their homes for up to six months.

"It's almost winter time. There's more rain coming."

Nearby aboriginal groups have already donated supplies such as clothing to help their neighbours, many of whom are related to one another, Chief Chamberlain said.

So far, engineers have completed an initial assessment of about 20 homes, he said.

"One of the things I've heard coming out of that initial assessment is about the damp, dank smell coming out of every home."

Most of the people who were forced out of the community will have to vacate their current accommodation in Alert Bay by Wednesday, he said.

That's because every available place has already been booked for a potlatch next weekend, Chief Chamberlain said.

Meanwhile, the province announced Saturday that travel costs will be paid for Bella Coola, B.C., residents stranded by the closing of Highway 20 after last week's heavy rains.

The province, the Department of Indian Affairs and the Chilcotin Regional District are working together to also offer flights from Anahim Lake to Bella Coola for 31 people currently staying in Williams Lake.

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