'I get angrier every time': Abbotsford family fed up with decades of flooding from Nooksack River
You might call the Dykman family veterans of the floods.
When their dairy farm, the Dykman Cattle Company, flooded nearly two weeks ago, it was the worst Cynthia Dykman had ever seen in her two decades on the western edge Sumas Prairie.
But it was far from the first time.
“It’s happened three times, and the last time was only a year and a half ago,” Dykman tells me.
“I get angrier every time.”
The Dykmans, who together managed to save nearly all of their 800 cattle and 300 calves, have been hit hard before.
In the last few years, they had their entire home physically lifted four feet.
It still wasn’t enough.
The latest surge, widely understood to be overflow from Washington State’s Nooksack River, filled their first floor by nearly two feet.
“If we didn’t have our higher barn, we would have lost all of our cattle,” Cynthia says.
In that new barn, which sits about 13 feet higher than the old one, we meet her two sons, Colby and Tanner.
On the night of the flood, they say, they saw the water coming from the south.
They scrambled in chest-deep water to move cattle up from the old barn to the new one.
All the calves were hauled to safety in a front-end loader, the family says.
“Knowing that they all would have been dead if we didn’t do what we did is really why we do it,” Colby says.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Tanner adds.
Daughters Alanna Harvey and Mariah were involved with the rescues, too.
“I said, ‘Mariah bring a boat,’” Alanna recalls. “She said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Bring a boat. We need a boat now.’”
Over the past two weeks, Abbotsford’s mayor, Henry Braun, has repeatedly pointed to overflow from the Nooksack, which is part of the Mount Baker watershed, as the primary cause of catastrophic flooding.
The river normally charts a course toward the northwest.
But in times of high-water, it overruns into creeks, fields, even the Sumas River, and heads north.
The river has been the subject of numerous studies over the years, most notably in a flood mitigation report commissioned by the city and finished in late 2020.
It’s also something the Prime Minister has discussed with the U.S. President.
But Cynthia’s husband Ted Dykman wants more than studies and discussions. He wants action.
“I guess it’s the same feeling I always have,” the father of four says. “Why can’t the Americans do something about this problem?”
When we head out to take a closer look, our first stop is the railroad track that runs east to west between the Dykman farm and the border.
It penned the first floodwaters like a dike that night, Ted points out, but eventually, it broke.
He remembers somewhere between eight and 10 floods hitting the farm over the last 30 years.
“Disappointment. Frustration,” he says, when I ask him to describe what’s going through his head, with potentially more floodwaters on the way Sunday.
“This did not have to happen,” he says.
But this time, it seems, Ted and Cynthia Dykman are hopeful.
They’re hopeful that the scale of this year’s flooding – which turned the eastern end of Sumas Prairie back into the lake it once was and drove thousands from their homes – will prompt tangible changes on the ground, once and for all.
They say it doesn’t matter whether the Americans dredge their river and raise dikes across the line or Canada builds its own, as long as something gets done to prevent a recurring disaster Ted says he believes was entirely preventable.
In the meantime, they’re ready to go.
Before I head out, Cynthia shows me the storm drain steps from their driveway.
“If the water comes up here,” she says, “I know we’re in trouble.”
Vancouver Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Trudeau decries 'fringe' views of some in trucker convoy, as police prepare for its arrival in Ottawa
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is decrying the 'fringe' views among some of those who are supporting the trucker convoy making its way to Parliament Hill to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other policies they feel infringe on their freedoms.
Indian police have detained six people in a crackdown on illegal immigration after four Indians were found frozen to death near the border between Canada and the U.S. last week, officials said on Thursday.
The Canada Revenue Agency is sending out a new round of letters to pandemic aid recipients to verify they were eligible for the help, and warning of potential need for repayments.
Canada's top doctor says even though the average daily COVID-19 case count across the country is down 30 per cent compared to last week, it's not an accurate reflection of the state of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday the extension of Operation UNIFIER for three years, and the deployment of 60 more troops to Ukraine in the coming days.
Airline pilot Kyle Hippchen could have -- should have -- been on board when SpaceX launched its first tourists into orbit last year after winning a sweepstakes, but ended up giving the honour to a friend.
Ukrainian police on Thursday detained a National Guard soldier who shot security guards at a military factory for unknown reasons, killing five people and injuring five others, the interior minister said in a Facebook post.
CTV News in Ukraine | 'If I'm called, I will go': Ukrainian reservist and former Voice contestant ready to fight Russian threat
CTV's Omar Sachedina speaks to a Ukrainian reservist and former contestant on Ukraine's version of 'The Voice' about the looming threat of war with Russia.
Crushing poverty is forcing displaced people in Afghanistan to make some very desperate choices, including selling organs or even their own girls into marriage to adult men.
Five deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday, according to the B.C. Ministry of Health.
British Columbia's forest watchdog has identified four key areas where the management of forestry practices can negatively affect water and outlines potential opportunities for the province to improve regulations.
The British Columbia government says it will distribute up to 250,000 rapid COVID-19 antigen tests to provincially funded child-care providers.
Tuesday’s report of 1,377 COVID-19 patients in hospital was revised to a pandemic-high 1,443 on Wednesday.
'People are fed up': convoy of trucks converges on Ottawa as police prepare for thousands on Parliament Hill
A convoy of hundreds of fed-up Canadian truckers are driving cross-country, heading for the nation’s capital to deliver a message that's raising millions of dollars from donors around the world.
Work is underway converting a vacant Seventh Avenue Calgary office tower into 82 units of affordable and specialized housing.
Tuesday’s report of 1,377 COVID-19 patients in hospital was revised to a pandemic-high 1,443 on Wednesday.
A junior hockey player in Stony Plain, Alta., has been suspended for eight games after he went into the stands to fight a fan, but his coach says he was defending his mom at the time.
Two events in as many weeks in which Alberta corrections officers fired their weapons is evidence staffing shortages are endangering inmates and staff alike, say sources connected to the prison.
A family is breathing a sigh of relief after a terrifying fire at an apartment in Etobicoke forced a mother to break a second-floor window to save her 10-month-old daughter.
An Ontario woman who says she was offered a free doorbell by a salesperson said she wishes she didn't then sign a 15-year contract for a furnace that will cost her $12,748.
Drivers are being warned to expect significant traffic delays on major highways from Thursday to Saturday as the 'Freedom Convoy' of truckers enters Ontario.
Three COVID-19 patients who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated have received double lung transplants at a Montreal hospital after their lungs were irreversibly damaged by the disease. One patient was a 49-year-old mother of five.
Since the start of the pandemic, Quebec has issued tickets totaling more than $45 million for public health violations, but only a fraction of them have actually been paid so far, according to data provided to CTV News.
'A terrifying experience’: Montreal mother shares ordeal as ICU sees increase of children admitted with COVID-19 in fifth wave
The medical director at the PICU in the Montreal Children’s Hospital says it is seeing more children get sick with COVID and be sick enough to come to the ICU.
Manitoba's top doctor says hospitalization rates remain high but are stable – though it is too early to tell where the province is in the pandemic's current wave.
A U.S. border patrol agent says a group of people from India attempting to cross the Canada-U.S. border faced blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures during an 11-hour-long trek that left four people dead.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said the province is continuing to see a significant amount of spread of COVID-19.
Nathaniel Carrier has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in connection to the death of his son and second degree murder in connection to the deaths of his parents.
Saskatchewan reported 1,194 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with six more deaths, however active cases are down again.
A popular Riversdale restaurant says it's putting a "pause" on its operations.
Saskatchewan’s premier is hinting some COVID-19 restrictions could soon be lifted, saying current measures may have run their course.
Whether its memories of attending them, or the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools, many people have been mentally strained by the former schools.
Sylvester Ukabam, a former Regina doctor accused of sexually assaulting five female patients, continued to deny allegations made against him from the witness stand on Wednesday morning.
Premier Tim Houston said Nova Scotia is extending its current provincewide COVID-19 public health restrictions until Feb. 14 in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
An area of low pressure originating off the coastline of Florida will merge with a cold front on Friday. The resulting storm will rapidly strengthen into a nor’easter, which will move north to impact the Maritimes Saturday into Sunday.
The Halifax Regional Police are on the scene of a sudden death at a hotel in the city.
Matt and Tim Devereaux are sending three of their transports to Ottawa this weekend to protest mandatory vaccines for truckers crossing the border.
Dash-camera footage shows a collision happening as a fire truck approaches: emergency responders offer advice.
London could start losing ground in its efforts to alleviate the housing crisis unless City Hall intervenes.
Sault Ste. Marie's Group Health Centre has been granted an extension by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for its annual Big Wish Lottery.
While the region is not out of the woods with regard to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Algoma's medical officer of health says there is reason for optimism.
In the next few months, the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub will be getting ready to open up its new permanent location.
All Region of Waterloo vaccination clinics will offer walk-ins for all eligible residents, starting Jan. 31.
Officials reported four new deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with a dip in hospitalizations.
'There are some calls that stick with you': A dramatic increase in mental health disability claims amongst first responders
First responders, like paramedics, firefighters, and police officers say they often deal with mental health challenges.