A mother and her two children, one of whom has a rare heart condition, have been flown to safety in Metro Vancouver after spending more than two days stranded in Hope, B.C.
Meghan Boulanger and her sons Zain, 6, and five-month-old Max, were visiting family in Merritt, B.C. last weekend and were on their way home when floods and mudslides blocked their path.
Like hundreds of others caught on the roads during Sunday’s catastrophic rainfall event, they ended up in Hope, isolated by shutdown highways.
“We didn’t eat for over 24 hours,” she told Global News from a hotel room booked by her partner, who is still in Metro Vancouver.
“Honestly I was really scared that things were going to get worse and Hope was going to flood, and we weren’t going to get out. It’s just all so surreal that this is even happening.”
Boulanger said they were able to get food, diapers and other supplies from the local high school, but securing medication and emergency medical services for Max would be more complicated.
Max was born with a set of rare heart conditions that can increase his heartbeat to dangerous levels without warning, requiring hospitalization. Medication keeps his heart regular, said his mother, but if they ran out or had an episode, the local hospital isn’t equipped to handle his case.
The family visited the BC Children’s Hospital emergency room between five and seven times last month, but Boulanger said the hospital couldn’t arrange for their evacuation unless Max had a medical emergency.
They can’t afford to charter a flight, she added, nor do they have the funds to stay at a hotel until they have another transportation option.
“His heart is unpredictable so I just need to be at home,” she said tearfully.
Global News interviewed Boulanger, Zain and Max on Wednesday morning, along with other residents and evacuees in Hope. By the afternoon, their story had been shared widely enough that several strangers offered to pay for their flight out.
The thankful trio boarded a plane later that day.
The family is currently fundraising online to support the costs of obtaining heart surgery for Max, which can only be performed in Toronto.
As of Wednesday, they had raised more than $9,000 of their $20,000 goal.