'The government hasn't been here to help': B.C. farm becomes hub of hope for flood victims
On a dairy farm in Abbotsford, B.C., there is something you might not expect to find.
Inside one of the buildings is a shop converted into a gathering place that's become a hub of hope for flood victims.
“People are lost. People don’t have money coming in right now. They don’t have insurance. They need help,” explained Allison Arends who lives at the farm in the Sumas Prairie.
And help is what Arends has been offering flood victims for about 10 weeks now, ever since last year’s catastrophic floods left people’s lives in shambles.
“It just kind of snowballed into this,” she said, as she surveyed the shop where there are tables and tables of donated goods, everything from groceries to cleaning supplies and footwear. Hot lunch is served six days a week.
Arends is supported by a small army of volunteers and a generous community.
“I would talk to local restaurants and churches. Everybody donated. I had the whole month full for 100 meals to feed a day. This month I’m more up for 50 (meals daily)," she said.
But volunteers dish up more than donations.
“We provide a listening ear. We can give them a hug. People can be here and be themselves, meet their neighbours they haven’t met,” explained Arends.
They are sentiments echoed by Julianne Borne of Chilliwack Bowls of Hope who dropped off the meals on the day CTV News was there.
“The need for a place for community to gather has been important since day one in all of this. Emotional, mental support as well as the physical supports of food ready to go,” Borne said.
The shop at Crossroads Dairy Farm has become a place for those hit hard by the floods to not only share a meal, but also share their stories and perhaps find healing.
Arthur Deleeuw, who lives in Arnold, said the water came up six feet on his property last November.
“We have a free range chicken operation and we lost all of them,” he said.
“It’s pretty traumatic. I’m not going to lie."
He’s stopped by Crossroads a handful of times.
“It’s nice to connect with the people here. Everybody’s got stories, traumatic stories,” Deleeuw said.
Meanwhile, Arends says the people of Sumas Prairie are still suffering because of what they’ve been through.
“It’s stress. For these people it’s constant stress,” an emotional Arends said.
“There’s so many that are not in their homes. There’s so many that are living in places with family, lots of people still in hotels.”
She’s vocal about her disappointment in all levels of government.
“The government hasn’t been here to help. The city has hardly been here to help,” she said.
But she believes where governments have failed, the community has pulled people back together again.
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