Abbotsford, B.C. farmers use jet skis, canoes to rescue cattle stranded by floodwaters

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Farmers rescue cattle in Abbotsford flooding waters'
B.C. floods: Farmers rescue cattle in Abbotsford flooding waters
Farmers and residents scrambled to save cattle as the water quickly rose above the animals' heads, even deploying a hovercraft. They risked their own lives to save the animals with the town under an evacuation order over fears that a water pumping station could fail and flood the area – Nov 17, 2021

Farmers in Abbotsford, B.C., are doing everything they can to save their cattle and livestock from rising floodwaters.

After a month’s worth of rain fell in two days over many parts of the south coast, the Sumas Prairie region of Abbotsford was one of several communities ordered to evacuate.

Farmers and neighbours joined together, using motorboats, canoes, dinghies and jet skis to move dozens of trapped cows.

Video from Reuters shows farmers pulling and pushing cows to safety and the cows, obviously frightened, barely able to keep their heads above water.

“This is a disaster,” Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun told Reuters, as he watched the desperate effort to save the cows.

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“When I see calves that are underwater and they throw them in the boats to save them, on the one hand, it breaks my heart,” said Braun, who has his own cattle.

“On the other hand, I’m just so impressed with our farming community coming together to help each other.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Abbotsford ‘not out of this yet’ as water continues to pour into Sumas Prairie, says mayor'
B.C. floods: Abbotsford ‘not out of this yet’ as water continues to pour into Sumas Prairie, says mayor

Meanwhile, dairy farmers in areas like Abbotsford, Chilliwack and the Interior are being asked to dump milk because mudslides and road washouts have made it impossible to transport.

The B.C. Milk Marketing Board is advising producers to dispose of their milk by dumping into manure piles.

More than 180 people in Abbotsford have been rescued by water or air from the flooding, according to city officials.

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Crews are working to protect the Barrowtown Pump Station, which is facing a surge of water from Washington state’s Nooksack River, Braun said.

The mayor has urged all residents remaining in the Sumas Prairie to leave immediately, saying he knows how hard it is to leave livestock behind, but that people’s lives are more important.

On Wednesday, city officials said 300 residents are still stranded in the area.

– with files from Jon Azpiri

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