Advertisement

‘I can’t stand by’: Farmers, volunteers risk their lives to save livestock trapped in B.C. floods

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: A week of daring animal rescues' B.C. floods: A week of daring animal rescues
During a week of deadly landslides and devastating flooding in our province, British Columbians have waded in to disaster to save pets and livestock. Kristen Robinson has a look at some of the daring animal rescues – Nov 21, 2021

During a week of deadly landslides and devastating flooding across the province, British Columbians have selflessly waded into disaster to save trapped livestock and pets.

Farmers and community members came together in Abbotsford early last week to save some 50 cattle stranded on a WestGen farm in the submerged Sumas Prairie, known as the heart of B.C.’s agriculture sector.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Farmers rescue cattle in Abbotsford flooding waters' B.C. floods: Farmers rescue cattle in Abbotsford flooding waters
B.C. floods: Farmers rescue cattle in Abbotsford flooding waters – Nov 17, 2021

Rescuers jumped on jet skis, boats, canoes and dinghies to push and pull the dozens of frightened and often hesitant cows to safety.

Story continues below advertisement

In a Facebook post the next day, WestGen praised the rescuers and said all animals had been transported off-site and were fed, watered and dry.

“A heroic effort to get cattle to safety – thanks to all (staff, neighbours and community) who assisted,” the company stated.

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

After this successful high water hurdle, Brian Mirea and some friends organized a boat rescue effort on Nov. 18.

“I saw all the footage of the animals stuck inside flooded barns and everything,” said the SFU business student and Abbotsford resident.

Mirea, who is also an animal lover, knew he had to help.

“I can’t stand by and let these animals suffer.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Saving livestock, and livelihoods, in the Fraser Valley' B.C. floods: Saving livestock, and livelihoods, in the Fraser Valley
B.C. floods: Saving livestock, and livelihoods, in the Fraser Valley – Nov 19, 2021

After putting out an offer to help on social media, Mirea said they were inundated with calls from people in need of assistance getting their animals out.

Story continues below advertisement

Together, they visited several addresses in the Sumas Prairie flood zone – breaking windows with residents’ permission when necessary – to rescue livestock and pets left behind.

“It was definitely rough seeing them suffering,” Mirea told Global News.

About 20 cows, five dogs and a cat were brought to safety, according to Mirea, who said the cat was hiding in a closet and it took some coaxing to convince it to come out.

“Just hearing that cat meowing and that sigh of relief that we actually had found the cat,” recalled Mirea.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Heroic horse rescue amid heavy flooding in Merritt' B.C. floods: Heroic horse rescue amid heavy flooding in Merritt
B.C. floods: Heroic horse rescue amid heavy flooding in Merritt – Nov 17, 2021

Connie Joe and Jerry McCauley received a call at 5 a.m. on Nov. 15 about the horses on their property near the Nicola Ranch on Highway 5A outside of Merritt.

Story continues below advertisement

“When we got there, it was shocking at first,” said Joe.

The Interior residents are used to some flooding on their pastures but had never seen anything like this.

“We saw our horses out in the middle of what looks like a lake – standing all huddled together,” recalled Joe.

Fortunately, the community rushed in to move the herd, which had been stuck for up to twelve hours overnight – in fast-moving floodwaters.

Read more: Heroic horse rescue amid heavy flooding in Merritt, B.C.

“It was at least 60 kilometres an hour, I can’t even tell you it was going by so fast,” said rescuer Hank Chillihitzia.

“Once we hit it, we were gone.”

Chillihitzia fought the current in his motorboat in order to wrangle the horses out of high water.

“My heart would have been shattered into a billion pieces if we lost one horse,” said an emotional Chillihitzia.

“My throat was knotted up all day and I was tired, cold, hungry, thirsty – but I wasn’t going to have anything to eat until those horses were on dry land.”

Story continues below advertisement

“It never stopped raining at all and they just stayed right until the bitter end,” Joe said of the rescuers.

With Chillihitzia’s continued encouragement, all 29 horses eventually started moving and ambled out of the water to higher ground.

Sponsored content