Floods led to heartbreaking losses for some Abbotsford farm families | MCU Times

Floods led to heartbreaking losses for some Abbotsford farm families

“Besides exhausted and completely destroyed,” farmers are fighting to save cows on Sumas Prairie.

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Fifty calves were picked up from the water at a flooded dairy farm in Abbotsford on Thursday and transported to Chilliwack, where volunteers, including children, used blow dryers to heat them up.

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The rescue was a hopeful moment in a heartbreaking ordeal for a family at the center Sumas Prairie flood zone and what was once the bottom of Lake Sumas.

The water began to rise on Phil and Trina Graham’s dairy farm on Monday, prompting them to move their calves to another of their stables on higher ground, family friend Lyndsay Edward explained. During the night, the situation worsened, and early Tuesday, Trina and the couple’s four children evacuated to Chilliwack. Phil stayed behind to try to transport his dairy cows away from the farm.

Edward said the farmer had no idea what time it was when he realized he had to go.

“He tried to leave with the tractor, but he could not get out anymore,” she said. “Time is blurred for him.”

By 9 p.m. Tuesday, a search and rescue crew was able to reach the farmer and transport him out of the prairie.

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On Wednesday and Thursday, the family and other farmers tried to rescue the cows that had not been evacuated. Volunteers using boats, including Yarrow resident Brad Mueller, pulled animals out of the water and moved them to higher terrain, where a cattle trailer was waiting.

Mueller did not want to talk about the scene on the farm when he arrived Friday, but called it “devastating.”

Calves are being rescued from an Abbotsford dairy farm during this week's floods.
Calves are being rescued from an Abbotsford dairy farm during this week’s floods. Photo by Posted Photo – Brad Mueller /PNG

In Chilliwack, volunteers, including children, who responded to a call for “volunteers with extension cords and hot hair dryers” helped warm up the calves. The animals are now staying at several other dairy farms in the area.

Edward said “every effort was made” to save the family’s cows. The majority were able to be rescued and transported to other farms where they are doing well.

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She would not comment on how many were lost, but said a veterinarian has been on site at the farm for several days and helped with all decisions.

On Friday, some of the people trying to help the cows had to be diverted to stop the media in boats that had penetrated the family farm and were trying to gain access to the stables.

ONE GoFundMe the site has been started to help Grahams get back on his feet. Everything they do not need will be shared.

“There has been a lot of destruction of the property, barn, feed and their home,” it reads.

Edward said the family is still “at the forefront of it”.

“(Phil) is more than exhausted and utterly devastated, not only for himself but also for friends and neighbors.”

On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Lana Popham said some farmers were trying to move their animals by boat when their properties were flooded but were forced to leave them as “roads were disappearing beneath them.”

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She said hundreds of farms have been affected by floods, and “we have thousands of animals that have died.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

gluymes@postmedia.com

twitter.com/glendaluymes


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