Sumas Prairie family suffers millions of damage and will take years to recover – .

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Sumas Prairie family suffers millions of damage and will take years to recover – .


Abbotsford, C.-B. –

The Sumas Prairie area in Abbotsford has suffered the most severe and prolonged impact of the devastating flooding following the Atmospheric River last month, and now that evacuation orders in the area have been lifted in phases, the property owners examine the full extent of the damage.

The Mostertman family’s basement is still full of water, but the level of the knees on the ground floor of their home has receded to reveal extensive damage to virtually everything, including treasured memories, and the waters of Floods up to their necks that have flooded their family business have left devastation.

“It almost looks like something out of a war zone,” Caroline Mostertman said, as she took CTV News to tour the muddy property that once housed a rustic chic tasting room for the Ripples Estate Winery, a wedding venue. idyllic on the theme of an antique barn, nursery and distillery.

Broken Christmas decorations, dirty stemware, waterlogged antiques, and moldy period costumes are just a few of the losses. Bottle after bottle of ruined wine and spirits will almost all be destroyed, and the family expects the blueberries and vines to be lost as well.

“It’s not just the physical damage, but the future damage because we don’t have immediate inventory (to sell) and with our 20 acres of blueberry fields that have been underwater for two weeks, these plants will not survive, ”Mostermann said. “The grapes and blueberries, we have to replant them and it will be five years before we get anything out of them. “

The Christmas season, which represents a third of their turnover, is a depreciation. Dozens of full-time employees have been made redundant and the family now relies on a handful of remaining employees, friends and volunteers to help them clean up.

THE WHOLE FAMILY IMPACTED BY FLOODS AND SLIDES

Caroline and Paul are co-owners of the winery and the venue, but their daughter’s distillery – New Wave Distilling – is also on the property and its equipment has been badly damaged.

“Being a modernized still, everything was electronic, but our entire control panel sank underwater and there is still water (from the flooding) in the still,” Kelsey Mostertman said. “All the tanks that had been filled with alcohol got up and the nozzles broke and any alcohol we had here was wasted… Due to supply issues in the event of a pandemic we had to give up most of it. our glass bottle caps and cork and all those bottles are spoiled.

Kelsey’s brother was caught in a slide that pushed his car into a river, while Paul and one of the family’s longtime staff members were trapped by the landslide near Hope. Caroline was alone when the waters began to rise on the property they had owned and operated for 40 years.

In a desperate gesture, she threw a wire fence at Paul’s prized koi fish – some of which were 20 years old and two feet long – but they swam in the flood waters several feet deep. Hard-earned equipment and products have become debris and rubbish still strewn around areas and sides of roads, where many ditches remain full of water.

A LONG RECOVERY AHEAD

The winery, like many farms and small businesses in Sumas Prarie, is not eligible for current flood assistance programs offered by the provincial government and was uninsured. Caroline Mostertman is optimistic that there will be help in one form or another, but until then the family is working around the clock to do what they can to get back on their feet.

“Crying doesn’t help,” Mostertman said. “We will be back next summer. I have a deadline because May is my first marriage. I’ll have it ready by then.

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