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Evacuating Abbotsford flood area ‘surreal,’ search crews say

North Shore Rescue says many of the evacuees are elderly
North Shore Rescue was out in full force in Abbotsford on the night of Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (North Shore Rescue)

A North Shore Rescue team lead said that rescue efforts in Sumas Prairie have been harrowing as the team worked to evacuate residents throughout Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.

Mike Danks, who spoke briefly to Black Press Media Wednesday morning as he was about to take flight for another mission, described the rescue effort so far as “surreal.”

“We’re evacuating people by air during the worst time of their life. The majority of people had elderly parents with them that were unable to walk, suffered from dementia. You’re trying to assist them into a helicopter at night, bringing only a very small amount of stuff. It was a very tough situation,” Danks said.

North Shore Rescue was tasked with transporting infrastructure personnel and flooding evacuations in the Abbotsford area using specialized equipment for flying at night. The team evacuated about 30 people overnight and was out again Wednesday with a winch-equipped helicopter and swift water rescue technicians.

In addition, the team rescued 15 people and 13 animals, including three people in need of medical attention, from Merritt and Spences Bridge.

“Stay safe, and if you don’t have to travel, please stay close to home. Let’s give our emergency services time to do their work and catch up,” NSR said in a statement.

“If you are in this area – look at the evacuation order and leave immediately if you are able, if you cannot leave phone 911,” a statement said.

Danks said search crews will be heading back out to flood areas Wednesday to search for people that need to be airlifted out.

VIDEO: Aerial rescues underway for those stranded by floods in Sumas Prairie


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About the Author: Aaron Hinks

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