Volunteers join forces to clean up after unprecedented flooding in British Columbia

The Insurance Bureau of Canada valued insured damage from flooding in British Columbia at $ 450 million.

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Caroline and Paul Mostertman have gotten used to seeing their belongings floating outside their flood-ravaged farmhouse in Abbotsford, B.C., but it’s the kindness of strangers who show up daily to clean up the mess that makes them always jump.


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“One afternoon we were sitting in our house when the water was at its highest and there was this huge thing floating around and I said to Paul, ‘What is this?’ He said: “This is our beer refrigerator in our cellar,” Caroline Mostertman said on Saturday.

Their nine-meter propane tank “would also come for a visit,” she said. “He was just hanging around, and he ended up miles from here. “

Mostertman’s family operate a winery, distillery and nursery on their property in Sumas Prairie, a former lake bed and prime agricultural area east of Vancouver that suffered extensive damage from three rivers atmospheric last month. The rupture of an embankment from an overflowing river in neighboring Washington added to the community’s woes.


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Nearly 15,000 people were forced from their homes in southwestern British Columbia, where repairs to some cut highways and bridges were carried out while the Coquihalla Expressway, a major inland route. British Columbia, is expected to remain closed until the end of January.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada valued insured damage from flooding in British Columbia at $ 450 million, in the costliest severe weather event in the province’s history.

Residents of Sumas Prairie have begun the long process of cleaning up the rubble of their flooded homes, where volunteers, some of whom they have never met, arrive every day to join the effort.

“We’ve all been four to six feet underground,” Mostertman said, adding that she and her husband were using their boats to rescue neighbors’ cattle during the record-breaking rainfall. They also made six-hour round trips to transport food to communities without road access at the request of the Salvation Army, which brought supplies when an evacuation order was issued.


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“We took our kids out and we got the animals out, and then I went home to help a neighbor remove some cows. Then we just ran out of time to leave, ”she said.

A woman named Christa Lefers came to the farm and took over and even set up a program of up to 30 volunteers, Mostertman said.

“Many, many other people have been fabulous,” she said, adding that they even brought trash cans and Porta jars, “all the stupid things you don’t think of,” because the pit septic tank no longer worked.

“I was not mentally prepared to face it,” Mostertman said of the generosity of strangers, including a woman who had been busy removing drywall from her own flooded home.

“This is the story I hear regularly. Everyone helps everyone here.


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Lefers said she was part of a church that has joined with members of two other churches in doing all they can to help people who have lost almost everything on their properties and who are working to save their livelihoods.

“A lot of people don’t know that people even today are just coming home,” she said of the deep clean that is expected to continue for months.

“We’ve been here for a few weeks to help and I promised her that I would stay put even during the reconstruction because that’s what I think I’m supposed to do,” she said of Mostertman.

For her part, Mostertman said she was focusing on a new perspective she had gained from the disaster.

“I worried about little things. Suddenly you are faced with a big thing like this and you don’t care about the little things anymore. “

  1. Damage from heavy rains and mudslides earlier in the week is pictured along the Coquihalla Highway near Hope, B.C. on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

    BC Flood: Read all of our coverage on the Fraser Valley and beyond

  2. Kelsey Mostertman, winemaker and chief distiller at Ripples Winery and New Wave Distilling, with oak casks on December 8 that survived the floods.

    After devastating flooding in BC, business owners have a new worry: thieves

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