farms welcome rescued cows – .

farms welcome rescued cows – .

Thousands of animals have died and hundreds of farms are inundated after a storm sends raging water towards Sumas Prairie.

An Agassiz dairy farmer shelters 40 more cows after flooding forced the evacuation of farmers from the Sumas Prairie area to Abbotsford.

Holger Schwichtenberg’s farm, home to 400 dairy cows, told Glacier Media it was happy to lend a helping hand.

“We’re a resilient bunch… I’m getting a little emotional here,” he says. “We are here to help whenever possible. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but we’ll do our best. “

As of Tuesday evening, 184 people had to be rescued from Sumas Prairie by sea or air. Many of them left behind cattle and their livelihoods.

The rescue mission followed a warning from the town of Abbotsford, which said a key pumping station would be flooded and failing.

The pressure on the pumping station comes from the Nooksack River, which flows into Canada on the US side of the border and continues to discharge water into the Sumas Prairie. About 300 volunteers – including retired firefighters, veterans and contractors – worked until Tuesday evening to erect a makeshift dam to protect the pumping station.

Meanwhile, thousands of animals have died, according to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

“There are difficult issues that we deal with with animal welfare,” she said. “Their barns are flooded and you can see the dead animals and it’s heartbreaking. ”

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the exact number of animals killed was unknown.

“I think I saw a few cows that appeared to be floating in the water yesterday from the helicopter,” he said Wednesday morning. “We don’t have numbers. There are also a lot of birds, poultry. “

According to the BC Cattlemen’s Association, it is mandatory to get rid of a dead animal.

“In that case, it’s even going to be compromised because we can’t do a burial in the Lower Mainland, so some of them will have to be removed,” General Manager Kevin Boon said, adding that the dead cows will have to be removed. be located. and removed quickly.

“This will be another one of those things that they will have to look at… a safe way to pull them off and take them out quickly so they don’t start to deteriorate.” “

Water began to break through the dikes around 3 p.m. Tuesday. Farmers jumped into action using motorboats to try and save their cows in five-foot deep water.

“When they came out they were shaking, they were cold… they don’t know what’s going on,” Braun said.

The rescued cows that remain in Schwichtenberg are adapting well.

“They are in a very, very similar environment and everything has actually gone quite well. Some of them are a bit loud. They don’t like change, ”he says.

The BC Milk Marketing Board advises producers in areas like Abbotsford, Chilliwack and the interior of British Columbia to dispose of their milk by dumping it into manure piles.

“Me included, there is no way for the milk trucks to reach our farm… milk is a perishable product, so the only thing you can do is dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way and keep going.” , explains Schwichtenberg.

He calls it a “supply chain disaster”.

“All of a sudden 70 to 80 percent of BC’s milk cannot be picked up. This is unheard of.

Meanwhile, 80% of British Columbia’s egg production comes from Abbotsford and Chilliwack, concentrated in two heavily flooded regions: Sumas Prairie and the Yarrow District of Chilliwack.

British Columbia declared a provincial state of emergency on Wednesday in response to flooding and mudslides. This could mean measures to ban non-essential travel or hoarding.

“The past few days have been incredibly difficult for British Columbians as we have experienced yet another natural disaster. Heavy rains, high winds and flooding have devastated entire communities across our province, ”said Premier John Horgan.

Many animals that have been rescued need urgent care, Popham says.

“They need attention, so with my colleagues, we are developing routes so that vets can get to the farms and get to the animals as early as possible,” she says. “There will have to be euthanasia that takes place. “

Bringing food for the animals is also difficult at this time. The minister notes that the province has asked for help from afar.

“We made contact with feed mills, we made contact with our colleagues across the country to try to access food. ”

As farmers continue to help each other, the province has pledged to ensure disaster relief funds are available.

With a file from Stefan Labbé and Nelson Bennett


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