Abbotsford police say first responders put at risk by people refusing to leave Sumas Prairie

Nov 18 2021, 5:45 pm

Dozens of Abbotsford residents that have chosen to remain in the flooded Sumas Prairie are being urged to evacuate by first responders.

Mayor Henry Braun says that nearly 600 people have been evacuated and registered so far. Additionally, 11 rescues were completed by fire crews overnight.

But more than 40 people have yet to evacuate the area in the Sumas Prairie, prompting concern from city officials and emergency crews. Abbotsford PD Chief Constable Mike Serr stressed that with water levels continuing to change, the decision only puts first responders at further risk.

“We are still asking, we need those people to please get out of that area,” he said during Thursday morning’s update. “As you’ve heard a couple of times now, the water levels continue to fluctuate.”

“We continue to monitor moment by moment but you are putting our first responders, our rescue services at risk should we have to go in there when this gets much more complicated. So please leave the area.”

He noted that due to the large area affected by the evacuation order, police aren’t able to go door-to-door to each residence.

Mayor Braun reinforced the message, saying “we are not out of this by a long shot, yet.”

But he was also quick to show compassion for the individuals, who are believed to be located in the eastern part of the Sumas Prairie, noting that they’re most likely farmers.

“They’re devastated,” Braun said. “These farms are second, third, maybe even fourth-generation farmers. And they love their cattle, they love their land. They don’t wanna move, I get that.”

“A lot of them have lost their investments. We know there’s a lot of equipment, barns, houses that have had five to six feet of water.”

The Mayor also expressed his concern over next week’s weather, which he said calls for 80 to 100 mm of rain sometime on Tuesday.

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