ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Farmers and first responders worked together using boats and personal watercraft to rescue hundreds of dairy cows stranded in the cold floodwaters in British Columbia.
Video showed scene after scene of cows being towed to dry land via jet ski or boats.
On Wednesday, during a news conference, Abbotsford Mayor Harry Braun described the shivering cows coming out of the water.
"When I see calves that were underwater that they rescued and threw in the boat to save them, I mean, on one hand, it breaks my heart; on the other hand, I'm just so impressed with our farming community that they have come together to help each other."
Residents in Abbotsford were told to evacuate Tuesday night due to the imminent failure of a pump station that prevents the Fraser River from flowing into the Fraser Valley.
Braun said Abbotsford is the largest town in Sumas Prairie and about three-quarters farmland.
"The farmers are very adapted to the situation and figuring out how to do things," Braun said of the rescue efforts.
The flooding is connected to heavy rainfall, wind and surging rivers caused by an atmospheric river that slammed into western North America this week, dropping more than a foot of rain in some areas in Washington.
The surge of water into Sumas Prairie is coming from the Nooksack River in Washington. The river crested Tuesday at 150 feet reaching a major flood stage.
According to Braun, the floodwater is also full of waste, including cow manure, part of a reservoir now under floodwaters.
The mayor estimated that more than 180 people were rescued from flooded areas in Abbotsford, with about 300 residents remaining.
Braun said the Fraser River needs to drop another 3 feet before opening the Barrowtown Pump to allow more water through. However, if more rain comes, Braun said, "we are in deep doo-doo."
According to the Vancouver Sun, Fraser Valley farmers supply 50% of British Columbia's eggs, chicken and dairy.