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B.C. floods: Horses airlifted to safety in first-of-its-kind rescue operation

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Another amazing story of survival is emerging from the flood devastation near Spences Bridge. On Monday, the raging river washed away one family's home and most of their property -- stranding three people and three horses. Luckily they were spotted by a passing helicopter and as Emad Agahi reports, that's when a first-of-its-kind rescue operation sprang into action – Nov 22, 2021

A remarkable rescue has emerged from last week’s floods in B.C. involving horses and helicopters.

It happened near Spences Bridge.

When waters rose, Kim Cardinal’s home located along Highway 8 was obliterated by flood water and road access was cut off.

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B.C. floods: Forecast of new storms raises questions about preparedness – Nov 22, 2021

“Our whole driveway, our whole property just went ‘oof’ — it was gone,” Cardinal said. “And that was in a matter of seven minutes.”

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Cardinal and her husband Lorne managed to drag some of their animals and their truck onto a section of what used to be highway. They were joined by a stranded off-duty police officer who was passing by.

Read more: B.C. family stranded by floods shares powerful images of Coquihalla Highway damage

“Throughout that walk, I was walking over portions of road that were completely gone,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Brett Schmidt said.

“I was climbing over portions of the hill to where the road was completely gone. There were large boulders and stones coming down the hill. There were power lines getting knocked down. I saw people on the side of the road trying to salvage stuff from their house.”

A fire kept them warm through the night.

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B.C. floods: No timeline for full re-opening of Trans-Canada Highway – Nov 22, 2021

“My husband put his arm around me and he said, ‘If we die, we’re going to be together, Kim. At least we’ll be together,'” Cardinal recalled through tears.

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The fire also acted as an SOS signal. By morning, a helicopter spotted them.

More help was on the way.

Read more: B.C. floods: Federal government sends over 500 troops for relief efforts

On Thursday, in what’s believed to be a B.C. first, another helicopter flew in with a specialized sling to get the horses to safety.

These animals wouldn’t have lasted and they would have had a slow, painful death if they had to sit there for the winter,” Kelly Kennedy with Horse Council BC said. “So I decided that it had to get done and we might as well tackle it.”

Their horse, Winter, and two ponies are now being looked after in Kamloops, but the Cardinals lost many other animals in the flood.

Their family is shaken but thankful to be alive.

“You know, I’m here,” she said. “I’m so [thankful] that I’m here.”

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