A slow stream of people entered the doors of the Tradex Centre in Abbotsford Wednesday morning, where a reception centre offering those evacuated from flooded areas were given assistance and shelter.
Michelle Dupont and Jordan Berger arrived with their three dogs – Marley, Dixie, Cleo – after a harrowing night trying to escape the water.
The couple live in a trailer on a property at Wells Line Road and Dixon Road and found themselves trapped by the water Tuesday night.
Dupont said the owner of the property had just gone to Kelowna the day before the floods and is now trapped in the interior.
So, Dupont and Berger decided to stay as long as possible to take care of the animals. There are a couple of high points on the property, the couple explained.
“We moved the trailer to the highest point on the property. We moved the horse and the cow to the highest point on the property. We let all the animals in the hay loft,” said Dupont.
When they finally decided to leave Tuesday night, they found out they were trapped. They spent about two hours trying to drive to safety starting just before midnight and ended up having to drive back to their trailer to wait.
“The water was up to the door handles it seemed,” said Dupont about the drive. “It was just way too much and way too scary.”
“I honestly did not even know if we would make it back home. It felt like we would get washed away in the water.”
Search and Rescue evacuated them about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and after registering at the reception centre at Tradex they were planning to head to Dupont’s parents place in Maple Ridge.
The Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Abbotsford have been serving 150 meals to evacuees at the Tradex Centre three times a day since Monday.
In addition, they have also been delivering meals to first responders, Search and Rescue, and to about 50 firefighters who attended the RV holding centre fire Wednesday morning, said Ian Pollard, divisional directorfor emergency disaster services for the Salvation Army across the province.
The charitable organization is also airlifting 1,300 meals two times a day to evacuees in Hope with help from Ridge Meadows Ministries of the Salvation Army, Gateway in Langley, and other partners, said Pollard.
Haley Michaud and Dayton Mackay from Summerland were moving a friend to Chilliwack and had been stuck at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre since Saturday.
On Tuesday night, the water rose so fast, they said, they had to be evacuated and arrived at the reception centre at Tradex at around midnight Wednesday morning.
The water came up quickly at the hotel, explained Michaud, their abandoned vehicle in the hotel parking lot is almost fully submerged underwater.
When the power went out at the hotel, guests had to hike uphill to a city bus that was waiting to take them to Tradex.
“It was completely surrounded (by water),” said Michaud of the hotel. At first the group had planned to walk through waist-high deep water to get to the waiting bus. But an uphill path was discovered and after firefighters checked it out for safety, it was deemed the better option to get to safety.
“There were quite a few older people that were trying to make it up with the walkers. There was a lady getting worried and wanting to get home,” said Michaud, adding that there were about 50 people in total.
Glenda Pevie, from Newfoundland, had been living at the Clarion Hotel in Abbotsford while working on a pipeline project since about mid-October. She managed to book a flight at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to get home.
Hotel staff knocked on doors to advise guests to pack an emergency bag, Pevie said. Then the fire department sent in a couple of firefighters to help the group get out.
Pevie, Michaud, and Mackay praised the hotel staff for their help during the ordeal – staying calm, feeding them, and giving them extra blankets.
“It’s been a long few days, not much sleep,” said Pevie.
“I can’t wait to get home and get in bed and sleep for a couple of days,” she said.
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