'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
As the sun set in Ottawa on Friday constant honks from truck horns could still be heard through the downtown core, as hundreds of convoy participants began gathering around Parliament Hill in what's set to be a 'unique, fluid, risky, and significant' protest, according to city officials.
As the convoy of truckers and their supporters descends on Ottawa for what's set to be a weekend of protests and potentially prolonged gridlock, what is the group looking to accomplish?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's concerned about the potential for violence during this weekend's planned protest on Parliament Hill by truckers and others joining the crowd to vent their anger about public health restrictions to combat COVID-19.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to cool the rhetoric, saying that it's putting his country's economy at risk, even as Russian warships carried out target practice in the Black Sea.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Canada is “one of the lead countries in NATO” in its support for Ukraine, as the country faces a possible Russian invasion.
Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is removing her library of music from Spotify in solidarity with fellow artist Neil Young, citing 'irresponsible people' sharing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine on the streaming platform.
Nova Scotia has enacted a new order that bans highway border blockades.
The cold winter in Manitoba means that ice fishing is typically a hobby only for the hardy. But entrepreneurs are offering ways to take the freeze out of ice fishing with off-grid cabins and trailers that allow guests to take up the sport in comfort and style.
Despite bearing the names of some of Canada's most recognizable figures, some donations made out to a convoy on its way to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions are not as they appear.
The number of people requiring hospital care for COVID-19 on Vancouver Island rose over the past 24 hours, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
The founder of Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery is being accused of branding his whisky as too Scottish by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
British Columbia's top doctor says some COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings are expected to be gradually lifted by Feb. 21.
Three times a week, Rick Corby hits the ice at the Huntington Hills Community Centre.
A number of Alberta physicians say Premier Jason Kenney's comments on Thursday about the provincial hospitalization situation doesn't accurately represent what's happening in ERs.
The garden centre at a Lowe's store in northwest Calgary has a long-time visitor, but it's not a customer. It's a raven and it has been there for weeks.
Thursday’s report of 1,469 COVID-19 patients in hospital was revised to a pandemic-high 1,532 on Friday. The 11 highest patient counts have all come in the last 11 days.
Alberta is seeing a jump in long-term care home (LTHC) outbreaks as the province prepares to loosen rules brought in to stop the spread of COVID-19 between facilities.
More than 400 people have contracted COVID-19 at the Edmonton Remand Centre, marking the worst pandemic outbreak for the correctional facility.
Ontario health officials say they've detected at least 15 cases of the COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.2 in the province.
An 84-year-old man is dead after being struck by the driver of a vehicle in Etobicoke Friday afternoon.
The former dean of medicine at McGill University says Canadians should not forget about the shortage of vaccines the country faced during a very difficult moment in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quebec truckers who disagree with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination mandate gathered at several Canada-U.S. border crossings ahead of joining the so-called "Freedom Convoy" to Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Another city mainstay will close this weekend: 50-year-old Slovenia deli, with its bright red-and-yellow sign. But just recently, the Plateau passed a bylaw protecting some historic signs for good, so could the symbol be saved?
Gym owners are stretched thin while they have been closed for 14 of the last 22 months, the Fitness Industry Council of Canada says. Owners have accumulated an average of $75,000 to $80,000 in debt, according to an internal survey.
The Metis National Council has filed a lawsuit against its former president and the Manitoba Metis Federation alleging financial irregularities and questionable contracts.
A relative of a family that froze to death in southern Manitoba while trying to cross the United States border says it's expected the bodies will not be flown home to India for a funeral.
The way a councillor participated in a meeting is driving debate at Winnipeg City Hall. During Thursday’s council meeting, Councillor Matt Allard (St. Boniface) was participating virtually. At one point, he is behind the wheel driving. His two children are with him.
Last Friday, Penny Fentiman was surprised by raw sewage flooding her basement due to a sewer blockage.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority expects an overwhelming acute care surge due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
A custom built muscle car sold to the highest bidder at the Barret-Jackson collector car auction this afternoon with proceeds going to STARS.
School divisions in Saskatchewan are adjusting their practices for communicating COVID-19 cases in the classroom following directive from the provincial government.
The Government of Saskatchewan reported 1,392 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, along with two more deaths.
A convoy scheduled to make its way through Regina on Saturday is expected to cause delays, according to police.
New Brunswick health officials are reporting four additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday.
Nova Scotia reported one new death related to COVID-19 on Friday. The man in his 60s lived in the province's Western Zone.
Weather conditions will deteriorate quickly in the Maritimes Saturday morning and afternoon.
London police have laid charges in connection with a crash on Riverside Drive that left an eight-year-old girl dead.
Starting Monday, London, Ont. can once again access city pools, arenas and community centres as provincial COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Prices across the City of London have broken the $1.50 per litre barrier and many don't expect to see any relief for some time.
There's a new food delivery service taking off in Sudbury that was designed to help support local, independent eateries. It's the brainchild of three restaurants and they've expanded their service to nine, with more to come.
Officials in Timmins say the city's main landfill site is filling up and they're studying the possibility of launching a city-wide composting program.
The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Board has a new budget and a new chair.
A Kitchener, Ont., man who was on the run and in hiding from the Taliban in Afghanistan has returned to Canada.
Crews with Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro are working to restore power to a Kitchener neighbourhood.
A Kitchener lab that processes COVID-19 tests was ordered to stop selling them to long-term care and retirement homes by the Ministry of Labour.