British Columbia

B.C. woman wades through her flooded home to retrieve late grandmother's opal ring

When Sharlotte Skowronek was forced to evacuate her Princeton, B.C. home amid severe flooding, she left behind a family heirloom: her grandmother’s opal ring.

Sharlotte Skowronek says she never had any doubt she would find the ring

When Sharlotte Skowronek's grandmother (pictured left) passed away, her opal ring was passed on to her daughter, Skowronek's aunt. It was then passed on to Skowronek. (Sharlotte Skowronek)

When Sharlotte Skowronek was forced to evacuate her Princeton, B.C., home amid severe flooding, she left behind a family heirloom, her grandmother's opal ring.

Her grandmother had worn it for as long as she could remember. It was first passed to Skowronek's aunt, then to Skowronek, and, eventually, the plan was for it to go to her daughter.

After the flood, the street outside her house had turned into a river.

So Skowronek had to wait, not knowing whether she would ever find the ring again — until last week, when Skowronek was startled awake at 6 a.m. by a phone call from her friend, Nicki Forde.

The flooding had receded and the street was clear, aside from the waist-high mud.

"If we gear up and find some rubber boots, you and I are going to be able to find that ring," Skowronek remembers Forde telling her.

She jumped out of bed and met her friend.

Wading through water

It was the first time Skowronek had been back in her house since the flood. Her home was filled with murky water.

"It was just a little overwhelming at first, but we knew we were going to find it," said Skowronek, adding they spent two hours wading through the muck.

Then, she saw something shimmer through the mud by the side of her bed.

On hands and knees, she reached in and found her grandmother's ring: a bright, speckled opal on a gold band, with intricate detailing around the stone. 

She slid it in on her finger, the colours danced in contrast against her muddied hands.

"Nicki, I found it," she remembers yelling.

"I was so happy and so excited I just started crying. And she started crying."

Now that the ring is safe and sound, Sharlotte Skowronek and her daughter will take turns wearing it. (Sharlotte Skowronek)

Skowronek's home was later condemned. The early morning window was the only opportunity she and Forde had to find the ring, the sole possession she cared about retrieving.

"My grandma was a really amazing lady," Skowronek added. 

"I thought for sure my grandma was with me. She had to have been there. Because that's the only piece of jewellery recovered and it was so shiny through the mud."

Now, the ring is sitting safely around the finger of Skowronek's daughter — but she admits they will take turns getting to wear it.

With files from Sarah Taher


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