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.
“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.”
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.
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