‘My Life’s Work’: Farmers Detail Loss of Beloved Lands and Crops in Sumas Prairie, BC


The Sandhu family has been cultivating fruit and vegetables in the Sumas Grassland for three generations.

Avtar Sandhu’s father brought the property in 1974 and since then Sandhu, his sons and nephews have carefully tended the fertile lands of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

When he was drowned by seven or more feet of water on November 14, they were heartbroken.

“It’s hard to put into words – depression, sadness – it’s hard to say,” said Sandhu, studying the damage caused by last week’s natural disaster.

“Everything our parents, aunts and uncles have built, it’s heartbreaking to see it disappear,” added his nephew, Gary Sandhu.

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The family business supplies the provinces of the country and some American states with blueberries, strawberries, broccoli and other fresh produce. These factories are now under water and their tractors too.

Nonetheless, the Sandhu are determined to rebuild themselves.

“We’re not going to let our customers down,” he told Global News.

“We are not going to give up. We will plant as soon as the land is drier and we get approval for soil testing and so on.


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Flooding in British Columbia: The Future of Recovery for Flooded Farms in Sumas Prairie


Flooding in British Columbia: The Future of Recovery for Flooded Farms in Sumas Prairie

It’s a positive attitude shared by many farmers in Sumas Prairie, who have banded together following evacuation orders, homes and lost crops, to ask for support.

“I want to assure everyone that the Sumas Prairie farmers here are a very strong community,” said Gevan Gill, owner and operator of BC Blueberry Farms.

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“We have regrouped and we will rebuild. We ask Canada to help us.

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The Gill family lost their home, farm, and packing plant to the flood. The latter contained expensive equipment that cannot be recovered now that it is wet, he added.

Their blueberry plants died, recovering over 10 years of growth in the field into a strong, healthy and reliable crop. Gill said buyers of the farm, including Walmart and Costco, are already asking if they will be able to stock the shelves next season.

“In the near future, blueberry growers here don’t know what they are going to do for a living. Our houses have disappeared as well as our income, ”he said.

“It’s my life’s job.”

Gill said the best thing governments can do for affected residents and farmers is to ensure that such a disaster never happens again, whether through dike strengthening or other mitigation measures. floods.


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Flood-ravaged British Columbia braces for two more storms


Flood-ravaged British Columbia braces for two more storms

Peter Reus, owner of Van Eekelen Enterprises, said he also expects financial assistance from both the province and Ottawa.

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His family farm lost more than a million dollars in leeks, cabbages and other crops, or about 70 acres of plants that are now “garbage.”

“We built it from scratch and being faced with that, which was completely preventable… It hurts,” he said.

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One of the first steps in the reconstruction will be to assess the damaged mechanics, said his son, Michel Van Eekelen.

It will take time, he added, and even when it does, the pandemic could slow the acquisition of new supplies, so farmers will miss the next growing season,

“It sucks when you hear there was a lack of maintenance (on the dikes),” he told Global News. “I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it is a disappointment of our government not to do it.”


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Weather and travel warnings issued ahead of two more storms


Weather and travel warnings issued ahead of two more storms

As it stands, the eastern part of Sumas Prairie is still underwater and likely won’t be drained for several weeks, according to Abbotsford, BC Mayor Henry Braun.

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The city is currently focused on preparing for two atmospheric rivers that are expected to strike between Saturday and Wednesday, again drenching the Fraser Valley with an additional 60 to 80 millimeters of rain.

These storms should be less intense than the one that hit on November 14 and 15, but Sandu is still keeping his fingers crossed.

“Do your best and pray for the rest. That’s all you can do, ”he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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