Anna Konrad | Vancouver Sun.

BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says delivering fuel to volunteers’ boats is “certainly something we could look forward to.”

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CHILLIWACK – By sea, land and air, volunteers in the Fraser Valley are stepping up to help those affected by this week’s massive floods – but civilians making rescues and rescue runs by boat say they are short of fuel.

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“We’re racing against the clock,” Chilliwack fisherman Yves Bisson said Thursday on his jetboat on the Fraser River, awaiting supplies tied to First Nations communities upstream. “If we’re going to do this job and continue – and I think we need to – then we’re going to need fuel.”

Bisson is not an emergency worker. He is a fishing guide and director of the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association. But this week his is one of the boats of more than a dozen association members that has increased the government’s emergency response as the region suffers from what is called a once-in-a-century flood.

These fishing guides, as well as farmers and other civilians who are stepping in, seem to be filling a need. On Wednesday, the fishing association said their boats rescued more than 100 people stranded in Hope. Late Thursday afternoon, Bisson’s boat was part of a convoy of five headed up the Fraser with a cargo of donated dog food, toilet paper, batteries, packaged meats, diapers and more, en route to the Chawathil, Peters and Soowhale First Nations, communities . ranging from a few dozen people to a few hundred.

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“I would say we have enough fuel for today, maybe tomorrow,” Bisson said. “It’s going to stop if we can’t get fuel.”

Photo taken by members of the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association who volunteered their help during the floods of November 2021. Photo: Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association
Photo taken by members of the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association who volunteered their help during the floods of November 2021. Photo: Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association Photo of Fraser Valley Angling Guides Ass /PNG

The association’s boats are going “non-stop” this week moving people, animals and goods as needed, said Kevin Estrada, owner of a Sturgeon Slayers fishing company and another director of an association. But fuel is hard to find.

“Right now, I got a call, there are calves drowning in Sumas Prairie … We have two guys trying to come there to help,” Estrada said. “But our big problem is that we’re running out of fuel … It’s already drying up.”

Taps seem to dry out in Chilliwack. A Postmedia News reporter passed six gas stations off Chilliwack on Thursday, and five were closed and taped. The only open station had a massive lineup of drivers waiting to refuel their cars and trucks.

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Closed gas station in Chilliwack, after the floods of November 2021. Photo: Anna Konrad
Closed gas station in Chilliwack, after the floods of November 2021. Photo: Anna Konrad Photo by Anna Konrad /PNG

It would be a huge help, Estrada and Bisson said, if the government could set up one or more stations along the Fraser to supply fuel to these boats.

Asked on Thursday about the prospect of providing fuel to the volunteers ’boats, BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said,“ that’s certainly something we could look at, and it strikes me as another example of how British Colombians are just doing the right thing. and appearing to help his fellow citizens. “

People around the Fraser Valley sought to enter as they could. Volunteers at Sikh temples cooked thousands of meals for travelers stranded by mudslides and flooding, while farmers used their tractors and trailers to save the livestock of neighbors from drowning.

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A gas station in Chilliwack with large lineups was among the only ones open in the city on Thursday.  Photo: Anna Konrad
A gas station in Chilliwack with large lineups was among the only ones open in the city on Thursday. Photo: Anna Konrad Photo by Anna Konrad /PNG

As waters rose on Tuesday, Abbotsford local John Glazema, who lives in Sumas Prairie, received a call from a neighbor whose parents were stranded in an area surrounded by deep water. Glazema, who has a private helicopter, flew in to help rescue the older couple. Since then, he has made an additional 20 to 25 flights at his own expense, helping anyone he can. He said fuel was not a problem for him.

On Wednesday morning, several farmers who were forced to evacuate in a hurry on Tuesday night, leaving thousands of cows and chickens behind, were flown back into the evacuation zone to take care of their animals.

“I think this is about uniting the community,” Glazema said. “I don’t want this to be about a helicopter pilot rescuing people. There are so many people working there to help that no one will ever know. ”

– With files by Tiffany Crawford

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