Profiles of resilience: The Climate Disaster Project

The Fraser Valley Current published a collection of 10 eyewitness narratives created in commemoration of the devastation wrought by last year’s atmospheric rivers.

The Fraser Valley Current is publishing a collection of 10 eyewitness narratives created in commemoration of the devastation wrought by last year’s atmospheric rivers. These stories were created in partnership by The Current and the Climate Disaster Project. You can learn more about the development of this series here. The stories will be published throughout December. To get every profile delivered to your email inbox, sign up below.

Wanda Turner’s vehicle was hit by a wall of mud as she attempted to return to her Chilliwack home during 2021’s atmospheric river disaster. 📷 Submitted

‘Lord save us!’: Wanda Turner

Wanda Turner’s vehicle was swept off a Fraser Valley highway by a massive landslide. She was rescued hours later, at 1 a.m., by volunteer firefighters who helped her cross giant logs, huge rocks, and mud debris to safety.

Corry Spitters' Sumas Prairie farm was submerged in 2021. Nearly 200,000 of his chickens perished in the disaster. 📷 Corry Spitters

What it’s like to lose 200,000 chickens in a flood: a Sumas Prairie farmer in his own words

Corry Spitters shares how he and his family and staff returned to save his Sumas Prairie farm despite authorities preventing access during the 2021 floods.

It’s like cutting off a lifeline’: Cyndie Anderson

Cyndie talks about the trip to visit children in Mission that left her and her husband trapped in the city. While landslides and floods cut off their route home to Lac La Hache, Cyndie worried about leaving her elderly mother alone as winter set in.

‘It was the most important thing I’ve ever done in my lifetime’: Alison Arends

Alison talks about evacuating her family from Sumas Prairie and returning to the devastation five days later. She immediately got to work making breakfast for the help. Soon her family farmyard had turned into a community hub.

Donna Rae in Merritt. 📷 Phil MacLachlan

‘I’m still going through it’: Donna Rae

Donna talks about her efforts to rebuild after her Merritt retirement home was inundated. After tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs, her home still isn’t fixed.

Mikaela Robinson 📸Phil McLachlan

The bus pulled into a parking lot and we just sat there. I got stuck in Hope. I was travelling alone’: Mikaela Robinson

Mikaela writes about the bus journey that landed her in Hope as floods and mudslides closed highways into the lower mainland. She watched a community come together to help stranded travellers, realized her own capacity for resilience, and gained a new perspective on climate change.

Jordi Williams 📷 Phil McLachlan

‘We open the back and there’s this alligator sitting in this enclosure’: Jordi Williams

Jordi writes about using his guiding skills to rescue family pets after flooding devastated Sumas Prairie. They spent two weeks on the water as it became increasingly polluted with diesel fuel, debris, and dead animals.

Ryan Kehler 📷 Phil MacLachlan

‘It sounded like the whole world was coming to an end’: Ryan Kehler

Ryan Kehler retells the dramatic experience of trying to get back to his home near Harrison Lake during the 2021 Fraser Valley floods. He writes about preparing for future natural disaster events, and being ready to leave on a moment’s notice or live in isolation, if the situation demands.

Brian Mirea. 📷 Phil MacLachlan

‘It was just water everywhere for miles and miles’: Brian Mirea

Brian Mirea reflects on efforts to help people—and rescue a cat—during last November’s flooding. Brian witnessed the devastation created when water inundated large parts of the Fraser Valley. The experience changed his perspective about the threat of climate change. It also changed him personally.

Shoshauna Routley runs a 10-acre farm in Abbotsford that flooded in November. 📷 Will Routlley

‘Like a waterfall’: Shoshauna Routley

Shoshauna Routley bought a two-acre farm on Sumas Prairie and started a Kamubha business. They had just upgraded their new facility to sell their products to big American retailers when the Nooksack poured north into Canada.

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