'WHEN THE CALL CAME TO HELP, THEY TURNED OUT IN DROVES.'
KAMLOOPS – Water is still running across Corine LeBourdais’ property, but thanks to at least 5,000 sandbags, a lot of elbow grease and many helping hands from the community, it’s not as bad as it could have been.
“The water has come up quite a bit today and it’s still raining. The water isn’t going to quit until it quits,” LeBourdais says. “We are as prepared as we can be.”
The rising waters of Cherry Creek – the waterway that runs along LeBourdais’ home – brought flood damage to the property and threatened the many animals that live there.
The small community west of Kamloops will have to lean on each other even more over the coming days. A very wet forecast calling for 15 mm of rain and the opening of the Kamloops Emergency Operations centre doesn’t bode well for Cherry Creek.
Since the rain and the spring snowmelt began, the waters of Cherry Creek rose significantly – more than LeBourdais has ever seen in her 20 years living there – crashing through bridges, bringing destruction and debris to nearby properties.
She’s not the type to ask for help, but when things were clearly out of hand for LeBourdais and her husband, she called on a friend.
Wilana Collins, also of Cherry Creek, answered the call. According to LeBourdais, Collins rallied troops and they all sprang into action to help save the Lazy Acres Road property.
“If the community hadn’t showed up, she would have lost the house. As it was, we got sandbags and people and diverted the creek,” Collins says.
It wasn’t just neighbours who helped.
“People from 100 Mile, Williams Lake and Vancouver stopped. It was amazing. We must have had 100 people helping out at one point,” Collins says. “It was wonderful. We are a rural community, so if you want to be on your own, you can be. When the call came to help, they turned out in droves. It was awesome."
Collins and LeBourdais both say help from businesses was instrumental.
They say Extreme Excavating, Metro Reload, Home Depot, Petland, Safeway, Save On Foods and the local Cherry Creek gas station all pitched in with help, discounts or donations.
LeBourdais cares for several dogs, chickens, six horses, cats and 25 goats.
Last week, the chicken coop was surrounded by water and she was certain they had drowned. Her concerned daughter went on a rescue mission and shimmied along a fence covered in water to check on the chickens. To her delight, all of them were just fine.
“The chickens made it. They must have just ridden it out. The chicken coop was actually hit by a tree and moved,” LeBourdais says. Now the hens are laying eggs everywhere.
No animals were harmed, but land was lost and the goat pen was washed away. A few outbuildings on the property including a barn and her tack store are ruined.
“This is hard on the animals, it’s so out of routine. They come outside and noting looks the same,” LeBourdais says.
LeBourdais is still under evacuation order, but she and her husband have chosen to stay put.
“The animals need to be fed and watered. Who will look after them?”
“Thankfully there are wonderful people in the world and my community who took the time to consider our lives,” LeBourdais says. “Without help we would have been much worse off. We lost a lot and that sucks but we also gained a lot.”
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