'This is an act of God': Fraser Valley farmer warily watches as waters rise
Ed Mulder seems unusually calm for a guy who’s watching floodwaters nearly lap at his front door.
We found him and his wife, Hester, in hip waders, surveying the newly formed lakes surrounding the only home they’ve known since 1994.
“(We’re) basically in the drain of this prairie here,” Mulder tells me. “So if it comes, it’s going to come fast.”
Tuesday morning, their farm on Sumas Prairie, just over the border from Chilliwack, was one of over 1,000 placed under a mandatory evacuation order.
The highway is cut off both to the east and west. The canals are nearly full. The rivers rushing by.
Their two adult daughters and pets have found their way to friends further afield.
Mulder, his wife, and their 21-year-old son Jake have consciously chose to stay behind.
“Why stay? Help me understand,” I ask him.
“I guess it’s just part of being a farmer,” he says. “Everything we do is based on keeping (our 15,000 chickens) health and happy. And to walk away from that, it’s tough,” he adds, choking back a few tears.
We walk the property line where his front lawn disappears underneath water that’s at least two feet deep in places, and rising.
Mulder points out the wooden stakes he’s placed at the water’s edge: one for Monday afternoon, and another for Tuesday morning, a few feet closer to his door.
He’s waiting for news about the dike along Cole Road.
He’s heard murmurings of a breach, though nothing confirmed. If that happens, he tells me, their fields, their potatoes, their chickens, might be done for.
“If I see it climbing up, say eight inches,” he says, “I’m getting out of here.”
When we send a drone up to get the view from above, we catch a glimpse of his neighbours’ homes, each on their own island.
“This is an act of God,” Mulder says. “We see it on the news, other times, in other places in the world. And this time it’s our turn.”
The family pick-up is ready to go.
Mulder cracks the door open to the back set.
They’ve packed up nearly nothing, yet at the same time, everything.
“Pictures, photo albums, change of clothes,” he says.
“That’s everything?” I ask.
“That’s everything that matters.”
Update: As of 5 p.m. Tuesday the Mulders reported the water level had risen several inches and was pouring over a roadway near their property. Ed Mulder said he thought the farm would be inundated in a matter of minutes. The family has now evacuated to Chilliwack