Farmers in B.C.’s Fraser Valley are facing devastation unlike anything ever seen before in the area, following torrential downpours Sunday and Monday of this week.
All farmers and residents in the Sumas Prairie, a lake bottom that was originally drained back in the 1920s and is kept dry by a pumping station, were told to abandon their homes and livestock Tuesday evening as the threat of water entering the pumping station was too high.
Dramatic images of daring rescues of livestock dominate many news feeds right now; however, the implications of the flooding reaches far beyond loss of livestock and property, as those even outside the flooded areas are cut off from transportation due to washouts, mudslides, and flooded roads.
Kevin Bisschop, dairy farmer at Chilliwack, B.C., is relatively safe on higher ground, and has taken in as many cattle as he can from those in the flooded areas. By his estimates, there are over 10,000 cattle in the Sumas Prairie alone, and thousands more poultry (listen below to his first-hand account).
He’s already been notified that milk pick up is cancelled until further notice, as trucks can only access farms on the west side of the flooding. That leaves a huge amount of farms cut off from major routes for not just milk delivery, but feed delivery as well.
B.C. Milk announced Wednesday morning that farmers would have to dump milk for the foreseeable future.
Henry Braun, the mayor of Abbotsford, said in a news conference that farmers have been using boats and tractors to move cattle all day Tuesday; however, several barns have already been completely flooded, including full poultry barns. He also noted that the flood water has breached manure storage facilities and the combination of that means that flood waters could be dangerous to human health and should be avoided.
#BCStorm update: Crews completed an aerial inspection this morning of our power lines along Highway 1 just east of Sumas in #Abbotsford affected by flooding. We’re continuing to post the latest outage updates here: https://t.co/nxhBxNPfKJ pic.twitter.com/VPxjGXDZqi
— BC Hydro (@bchydro) November 16, 2021