B.C. flooding: Animal rescues continue on flood-stricken Sumas Prairie
Battling winds and water, volunteers continue to rescue cattle on the flood-stricken Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford.
One volunteer says 50 calves were taken to safety, and video shows the animals being brought out on a boat.
Thousands of animals have already died in the unprecedented floods, as desperate efforts to prevent further tragedy continue.
Volunteers used trucks to haul water into the evacuation zone.
One of those volunteers is Kevan Garecki.
“We’ve got seven dairy farms that we have to fill up today yet,” he told CTV News, adding there were also poultry farms he was trying to get to.
Garecki says the biggest problem is access.
“In the northeast end of the prairie, the water's actually rising and a couple of the farms we were in this morning we won't be able to get back into,” he explained.
Garecki became emotional when he talked about being able to supply water to the cows, knowing if he had not got to them last night, some of them may not still be alive.
“I feel pretty good about that,” he said.
Earlier this week, farmers and volunteers moved cattle using boats and jet skis, then herded the animals into awaiting trailers.
Thousands of cattle have been moved out of flooded areas. Dairy farmers not affected by the floods have taken the animals in.
“Farmers with their pick up trucks and trailers, they raced out to Sumas Prairie and loaded up the animals, eight to 10 at a time, and got them to all the farms in Chilliwack and Agassiz who had room,” said Agassiz dairy farmer Holger Schwichtenberg, who is caring for cattle from two additional herds.
“This has been the most challenging year for dairy farmers in B.C. I can recall, with drought, pandemic and now flood,” said Schwichtenberg, who also chairs the BC Dairy Association’s board.
Despite evacuation orders, many farmers are still refusing to leave their properties.
“These farmers are second-, third-, maybe even fourth-generation farmers and they love their cattle, they love their land and they don’t want to move,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun.
But first responders say conditions are constantly changing in the flood zone, and residents are being urged to leave.
Meanwhile, there are some signs of hope.
Officials have issued a permit to the first two feed trucks to enter the evacuation zone.