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Before-and-after satellite images show flood devastation in B.C.’s Sumas Prairies


Dramatic satellite images show the extent of flood damage in B.C.’s Sumas Prairies following last weekend’s historic rainfall.

The low-lying rural area, east of Abbotsford’s town centre, is mostly farmland and was created by the draining of Sumas Lake in the 1920s.

Last week the area suffered extensive flooding as water gushed in from the Nooksack River from neighbouring Washington state, forcing evacuations and killing livestock.

In images provided by Maxar Technologies, farmland in the region is shown on June 27 this year and again on Friday.

Many homes, barns and roads were left submerged under murky brown water following the storm, as seen in the composites above and below.

A pilot and volunteer organizer who has been helping bring supplies to communities in need said it was “unbelievable” to see the damage first-hand in Sumas Prairie and throughout the Fraser Valley.

“The bridge is washed out,” Shaun Heaps told CBC News. “We have a monument that’s been with us forever, the Hell’s Gate Airtram, it’s gone — you can’t even tell that it was there.” 

WATCH | B.C. pilot describes flood damage: 

B.C. pilot describes ‘unbelievable’ damage in flood-hit Sumas Prairie

Pilot and volunteer organizer Shaun Heaps has been helping to bring supplies in flood-ravaged communities in southern B.C. He describes what he has seen from the air. 0:49

More troops arrived in the province over the weekend to help farmers in the Sumas Prairie area save livestock and lend a hand in sandbagging efforts.

On Saturday, the mayor of Abbotsford told a news conference that round-the-clock work has improved the flooding situation in the region.

Flood gates at a pump station that has struggled to keep up with the influx of water in Sumas Prairie were able to partially reopen, allowing excess water from the Sumas River to flow into the Fraser River, said Mayor Henry Braun.

“There’s a dramatic change already in certain parts of the prairie,” said Braun. “I can visually see a lot of green fields.”

But with more rain expected in the coming week, Braun has extended a local state of emergency until Nov. 29.

See more of the flood damage in the region (all images taken on Friday):

Nearly 1,000 properties in the Sumas Prairie area were put under an evacuation order on Tuesday. (Maxar Technologies)

More than 180 rescues were completed Tuesday and early Wednesday as trapped residents were stranded on their flooded properties. (Maxar Technologies)

The military has since joined animal rescue efforts in the flood-stricken region. (Maxar Technologies)

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