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Surrey Sikh community cooks thousands of meals, charters helicopter to help those reeling from severe storm

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SURREY, B.C. -

Volunteers from Surrey's Dukh Nivaran Sahib Gurdwara are pulling out all the stops to make sure people stranded by washouts, mudslides and floods don't go hungry, even renting a helicopter to deliver meals and other supplies to impacted communities.

Wednesday evening at the gurdwara, a steady stream of people arrived with boxes full of food, milk and even diapers.

“So many people stuck there and they have no food,” said Narinder Singh Walia, the gurdwara's president. “We are trying to reach them with food and blankets and other stuff.”

In the gurdwara's kitchen, a brigade ranging in age from the very young to the very experienced prepares 3,000 meals a day to deliver to those in need.

“This is a big task. It's a challenge, right? It's a challenge to prepare. It's a challenge to deliver,” said Neerha Walia, with the Gurunanak Food Bank.

With highways still shutdown, and access to the Interior of British Columbia limited, chartering a helicopter at its own expense was the only way for the gurdwara to get the food and other supplies directly to the isolated communities.

“There is a team out there who is going to be delivering to those who need it the most, at that time,” said Neerha Walia. “We're in contact with the local authorities and the local church.”

They are asking anyone who wants to help with groceries to drop them off at the gurdwara at 15255 68th Ave. in Surrey, where people can also donate money to help with the cost of the expensive flights.

“(Thursday) actually we are renting a plane to go to Merritt and Kamloops,” said Narinder Singh Walia.

Volunteers at the gurdwara say the air operations will continue until roads are passable, and then deliveries will continue by truck until things return to normal in the affected communities.

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