Videos provided to The Abbotsford News show the brutal force of the flooding that impacted the Sumas Prairie in mid-November.
The three videos were passed on by blueberry and saffron farmer Avtar Dhillon and show the area around the Sumas Dike at No. 3 Road.
The first video, shot by an area farmworker, was taken on Monday, Nov. 15 and shows floodwaters streaming across a blueberry farm after torrential rain had hit the region starting the night before.
Highway 1 was first closed that evening as rising waters from the Sumas River coursed across Sumas Prairie.
The second video, taken by the same farmworker, shows fast-flowing floodwaters sweeping through the same area on Tuesday, Nov. 16, after a breach in the dike.
Floodwaters were also coursing in from the Nooksack River in Washington State which overflowed its banks starting at about 2:15 a.m. that day.
The water headed north from the Nooksack and spilled into what used to be Sumas Lake in Abbotsford. Drainage pumps at the Barrowtown Pump Station couldn’t keep up.
That evening, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun issued an urgent plea for anyone still remaining on Sumas Prairie to evacuate, saying the situation had become “catastrophic” and the water levels were within a metre of overflowing the pump station.
By the next day, the situation had somewhat alleviated, but a video taken by Dhillon on Nov. 17 shows the flooded farmland by the dike at No. 3 Road.
Work on repairing the breaches began Nov. 19 and was complete by Nov. 26.
Dhillon and his family were among the hundreds of farmers whose properties and homes suffered devastating damage in the flooding.
Dhillon was having success growing saffron – described as “the world’s most expensive spice” – prior to the flooding.
He and his family are currently renting a home in Abbotsford while their own home undergoes repairs. He said it is expected to take about six months before they can move back onto the property.
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