BC Horse and Livestock Owners Seek Resources During Record-Breaking Floods

flooding bc horses, livestock in bc during floods, help for horses in bc, horse council bc disaster response

November 17, 2021

In southwestern British Columbia, damage and destruction continue to mount as a result of the “atmospheric river” event that brought torrential rain from November 13 – 15 before subsiding on November 16. The 250-plus mm of rain caused river levels to rise, and flood warnings were issued in many areas ahead of widespread flooding, washed-out roads, and several mudslides that left thousands of people stranded or cut off from essential services. As of noon on November 17, there were 54 evacuation orders and alerts in place in BC due to floods or landslides. 

As of November 17, all major highways in southern BC remain closed due to mudslides and bridges which have collapsed or are being examined for infrastructure damage. Both CN Rail and CP Rail have service disruptions due to mudslides and washouts. On November 15, hundreds of people trapped by mudslides were airlifted from the highway. 

flooding bc horses, livestock in bc during floods, help for horses in bc, horse council bc disaster response

Devastating flooding after the storm in Abbotsford, BC on November 17, 2021. Photo: Shutterstock/EB Adventure Photography

The City of Merritt issued an evacuation order to residents on November 15 when flood waters inundated bridges and overwhelmed the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Still reeling from the wildfire season that put the city’s 7,000 residents on evacuation alert this summer, they are now waiting to survey the damage when floodwaters recede. 

In a press conference on Tuesday, November 16, BC Transportation Minister Rob Fleming stated that Highway 3 might be reopened by end of the November 20/21 weekend, but he gave no indication when the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1), the Coquihalla (Highway 5), or Highway 99 would reopen. Highway 3 is being prioritized to allow access to the Interior from the Lower Mainland, but Highways 1 and 5 have mudslides and washouts and will take longer. 

As of November 17, the BC Government declared a province-wide state of emergency connected to the floods. The declaration gives the province various extensive powers from food chain protection including stopping hoarding of essential supplies, to restricting travel in and out of flood zones, to use of land or personal property considered necessary to prevent, respond to, or alleviate the effects of an emergency or disaster. Earlier this year, provincial states of emergency were in place connected to wildfires and COVID-19. 

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Hundreds of farms in the Abbotsford-Chilliwack area are affected by the flooding and have suffered devastating damage. Many of them are under water, and those not under water are cut off from resources. Many farmers are refusing to leave despite evacuation orders, and along with volunteers they are desperately trying to save their animals. 

The Sumas Prairie area in Abbotsford, BC is home to a large number of dairy and chicken farms. Farmers and volunteers are working together to save as many of the animals as possible, but many will have to be euthanized. Cattle are scared, panicked, and shaking with cold. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the heroic efforts of the farmers to save their cows were unbelievable and many were taken out by people wading them through the deep water. Sadly, many calves simply drowned when waters quickly rose several feet. All affected farmers and livestock owners are concerned about running out of feed supplies within the coming days. 

flooding bc horses, livestock in bc during floods, help for horses in bc, horse council bc disaster response

With this cutline: Flooding in the City of Merritt, BC in November 2021. Photo: Wikipedia/Stepan

In a press conference on November 17, BC Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, stated that thousands of farm animals have perished in the BC floods, and thousands more will be in “critical need of food” over the coming days. “This is a very difficult time for agriculture in BC and our producers. 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," she said. 

The federal government has announced that it will deploy air force personnel to help deal with the aftermath of the floods, and Canada Border Services Agency has announced that it will give an exemption from the COVID-19 pre-arrival test and quarantine requirements to travelers who must transmit through the U.S. to get to their residence in Canada. 

Thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes and livestock, and this, of course, includes horses. Horse Council BC (HCBC) has made information and a list of resources available to help horse and livestock owners deal with this emergency. Please visit the HCBC Current Flooding Information page for links to Evacuee Resources, Community Information, Relief Funding, and the BC & Alberta Emergency Livestock/Animal/Horse Evacuation Support Group (for those seeking hauling/temporary housing for animals), and much more. 

Additional resources: 

Emergency management in B.C. - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca) 

Emergency Alert - BC SPCA 

BC SPCA responds to pet guardians impacted by B.C. flooding - BC SPCA 

Photo: Shutterstock/Fedor Lashkov

 

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