Thousands of sandbags and a grateful community

Residents in Huntingdon, and military members who helped sandbag the area over the weekend, share their messages of thanks after BC's storm

By Grace Kennedy | November 30, 2021 |5:41 am

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Over the weekend, residents in Huntingdon Village were evacuated from their homes in advance of the flood that would be coming from the Nooksack River. But before they left, neighbours came together with the military and other volunteers to protect their community.

The military was deployed to the area Saturday to erect a sandbag wall in the pouring rain along the railway to prevent water from seeping across the border. Some civilians came to help: filling and carrying bags alongside the soldiers. Others set up tents and tables with coffee and snacks. So many people came out to help that the Abbotsford Police Department issued a notice asking people not to come to Huntingdon Village for sandbags, as the huge volume of people was making it challenging for materials to make it into the area.

Together they built a 500 metre long barrier along the railway track, hoping to stall some of the flood water.

One resident, Pat Buchanan, shared her open letter of gratitude to the community with the Current.

I am so proud of our neighbourhood. The armed forces were sent down here to put up a sandbag bumper around the railroad tracks and 0 Avenue to help to redirect any flood waters coming up from the Nooksack River into Huntingdon. Within minutes of their arrival the people had tents and tables set up with coffee, doughnuts and other food and drinks for them.

This is how they have been reacting within the community since the beginning of Covid and even before with supporting each other, not just in troubled times but also with Christmas and Halloween parties for the kids, posting items that they don’t need anymore and that someone else could want.

Great people, great place to live.

Buchanan also shared messages and photos from other grateful residents, and we are sharing them with you.

Story continues below.

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Members of the Canadian military take a break from sandbagging Huntingdon to eat a meal delivered in the back of a resident’s SUV. 📸 Submitted

This was a text a resident had received from a member of the military after the troops had left Huntingdon:

If you can let your neighbours know that we were blown away by all the food, water, etc. that they brought for us. And the normal civilians that joined the line carrying sandbags down the tracks. A lot of the troops that were there are from across western Canada, including Edmonton, and now think Abbotsford and Huntingdon is filled with awesome people.

On our way back I heard different guys say that it was one of the best things they’ve experienced in their lives and careers, and the gratitude shown by Huntingdon was the validation we needed to make our day and to push us into the next week despite being beat by the last couple of days in Boston Bar, Chilliwack, and Huntingdon.

Volunteers set up coffee and snack stations in Huntingdon, to support the military and civilians who were busy building a sandbag barrier. 📸 Submitted

Residents were grateful for the military too, and not just for the bodies they brought to the sandbagging effort:

We walked down there the morning they arrived, [and] my five-year-old was very intrigued and had a lot of questions as to why the army was there. So we walked down so I could explain and show him, and the army guys were just so welcoming and informative and explained things to us, they even let my little guy climb into the huge rig they had!

They definitely put my son at ease as he was still very nervous we were going to flood again. (We’re on First Street and endured damage to our crawl space and garage.) Here’s his pic.

A five-year-old Huntingdon resident gets a rid in a military vehicle during a visit down to the sandbagging station. 📸 Submitted
Military troops and volunteers work together to build a sandbag barrier along 0 Avenue and the railway. 📸 Meaghen Holding/Submitted

Another resident also shared his gratitude to the military members in Huntingon:

I worked today with the military sand bagging the Huntington tracks. I was glad to help. I only say this because I seen them being human. I seen them take a break and eat some pizza or sandwiches and while doing so their eyes get heavy. They are so tired but just keep going. I seen them taking Advil for pain. I seen them just keep going. Doing this for Huntington.

If I stopped to look I wanted to weep. They were thanking me for helping. I thanked and thanked them! My pain is nothing in this big picture. I am SO PROUD of those guys. I salute you for your help. God Bless You All! And thanks to the Huntington neighbours that helped.

The Canadian military fill sandbags to help shore up Huntingdon against approaching floodwaters. 📸 Meaghen Holding/Submitted

A final resident shared their pride in the community, and their appreciation for everyone who was able to pitch in and help.

I just wanted to share something with you all who helped out sandbagging and bringing food to help support the military as they worked. I had a brief conversation with a member of the army on one of their short breaks, he said he had done things like this all across Canada and has never seen a community come together and support them like we all have. I am so proud to be a part of this neighbourhood and commend you all who plug yourselves in and pitch-in, in any way that you are able. Thank You.

The Canadian military fill sandbags to help shore up Huntingdon against approaching floodwaters. 📸 Meaghen Holding/Submitted

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Grace Kennedy

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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