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Flooding overtakes farming community in British Columbia

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Over the weekend, a major storm dumped record amounts of rainfall in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, and Washington State in the U.S. Many officials have called it a “once-in-a-century” event. Triggered by the exponential rainfall, mud and landslides also destroyed highways, trapping thousands and cutting off incoming help. 

On Wednesday, the B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency. “This provincial declaration of emergency will ensure the transport of goods, and essential and emergency services,” said Premier John Horgan. “Thank you to everyone for doing what you can to stay safe and to help one another as we work through this catastrophic time.”

According to The Guardian, there has been one confirmed death, while four people are still missing from a mudslide incident on Highway 99 near Lillooet. Nearly 18,000 individuals are still trapped as of Thursday evening. See the graphic below from The Guardian for more details.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

How it is affecting local farms

On top of the deadly mudslide, farmers and ranchers disregarded the call for evacuation to try and relocate their livestock. Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Lana Popham during a news conference Wednesday afternoon said, “Over the last two days, I’ve been able to have FaceTime discussions with farmers, and some of them are in their barns, and some of their barns are flooded, and you can see the animals that are deceased. It’s heartbreaking.”

Popham said there is a critical need for food for the livestock. Most of the stored food and supplies are underwater. With most of the highways cutoff from the mudslide, there are few opportunities for resources to be brought in. In the press conference, Popham stated they are working with veterinarians to get them to the farms to help where they can, and euthanize when they can’t. 

On Facebook, Farmer Tim, a Canadian ag advocate, emphasized the resiliency in farmers but expressed the exhaustion they must feel. “Farmers are resilient by nature, but even we have our limits. I try, but I can’t imagine myself in the boots of these farm families. They are tired, stressed to the limits and working around the clock trying to save every animal they can while putting their own lives at risk. Livelihoods are at the brink at ruin. Imagine suddenly having to worry if your animals will even have enough feed. What if you are forced to leave them behind because there is no where for them to go? Neighbours are helping neighbours and strangers have become friends. Let’s pray that their resilience can hold out just a little longer.”

Where are the activist? 

Agriculturalist to our north are also asking the age old question, where are the activist that “care” so much? PETA is no where to be found when the animals are actually in need of help. 

How to help

Currently sixty-three dairy farms in the Fraser Valley are under evacuation order due to flooding. Affected farmers, their neighbors, and total strangers have rallied together to evacuate thousands of cattle to high ground. Dairy farmers not affected by the flooding have welcomed these cattle to their own farms, ensuring they are milked, fed, and cared for until they can return to their home farms. 

If you are wondering how you can help with this travesty, the BC Dairy Association has set up a fund that will help the dairy farmers in that area. All funds raised will be used to provide urgently needed services and supplies for dairy farms and their families who have been impacted by this catastrophic event. See more information here

 

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