Farmers have been stepping up to help farmers in the Eastern Fraser Valley impacted by flood waters.
“I’m humbled and grateful knowing that people are looking after each other,” said dairy farmer and Chilliwack city councillor Chris Kloot.
He won’t take credit for any heroic efforts but he did participate Wednesday when some farmers “ignored protocol” in a mission of mercy. Trucks hit a closed section of Highway 1 in a convoy of trucks and trailers headed to stranded farms that were dry, but had no water or feed for their animals.
“Fire and flood are the worst disaster farmers can face,” Kloot said. “They’re going to do what they have to do.”
It’s “not a great time” to be a dairy farmer in the region right now, he underlined, with thousands of litres of milk swirling daily down the drain, and feed supplies running low.
But so many showed up to assist with livestock evacuation missions on the Chilliwack side, as well as one hauling feed and water to flooded dairy farmers on the Sumas Prairie.
“That’s what farmers do when dire straits. They don’t blink. They step up when they get the call. Trucks roll out. They make room for livestock.
“That’s the farm community – resilient in the face of disaster.”
Coun. Kloot is also a realtor so he wracked his brain and came up with suggestions of farms that were not currently in use, where evacuated livestock could be housed.
“I can’t imagine being a farmer right now in the middle of Sumas Prairie under water. I’d be one of the 30 still stuck there. I was taught by my father that you feed the animals before yourself. So to walk away has got to be just heart-wrenching.”
Flood waters are receding west of Abbotsford, but not to the east, where they were actually rising as of Thursday morning.
That means there are still formidable challenges ahead including supply chain blockages impacting feed availability.
Kloot said he had to give a shout-out to Molson Coors Canada and its Fraser Valley Brewery in Chilliwack for donating 100 tonnes of spent grain to be dispersed Thursday to farmers housing evacuated cattle from other farms.
Three truck loads of feed are being delivered to central locations.
“That’s amazing community spirit,” Kloot said.
He is holding hope that at least half of 10,000 cows, heifers and young stock, on more than 150 dairy farms on Sumas Prairie impacted by flood waters, were saved in the last two days.
“We were able to get a lot out, but many perished unfortunately.”
He predicts the aftermath is going to be “extremely” difficult.
“It’s going to be not days, but months of cleanup and recovery.”
The military has been called in but no one knows the timeline of their plan.
“What needs to be done is the breaches on the Sumas Canal need to be repaired. That would redirect water out to Cole Road toward Barrowtown.”
On a Zoom call with Agricultural Minister Lana Popham he pressed upon her the need for Highway 7 to be opened immediately to essential truck traffic.
“We need more outside-the-box thinking,” Kloot said.
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