The November deluge, known to meteorologists as an “Atmospheric River”, caused enormous destruction, and sadly loss of life too. Southwestern BC, including Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and as far away as Kamloops, all got hammered, suffering damages that may well cost billions to repair. The crippling disruption of the province’s supply chain is also putting many at risk. Sadly, more powerful storm events are likely on their way.
This story has dominated media coverage since November 13th when the rains began to fall. Provincial and Federal government action was clearly slow in getting off the mark in terms of both warning the public what was to come, and responding in its aftermath. Particularly when compared to the far more effective reaction from our Washington State neighbors, who were experiencing flooding and damage just across the border.
However, there was one specific group of British Columbians who, along with many other ordinary citizens, responded quickly and effectively to help those who were hardest hit by the rising flood waters. The group was the Fraser Valley Fishing Guides Association assisted by regular anglers who volunteered their own boats. Volunteers included some Public Fishery Alliance members like Fred Helmer and Dean Werk, owner of Great River Fishing Adventures. These professional river guides immediately began to coordinate rescue and humanitarian operations from Yale down the river to Sumas. In some cases round trips to move people, farm animals and goods lasted 3 to 4 hours and covered nearly 90 kilometers. According to volunteer Lee Bouthillier, himself a river guide, “I have seen nearly every Hope-Chilliwack guide I know on the move from Chilliwack to Hope”.
This type of spontaneous Good Samaritan action exemplifies what character is all about. Their selfless service to communities in need is commendable. On behalf of the Public Fishery Alliance, our board of directors extends our sincerest thanks for their efforts; and the efforts of anglers and other British Columbians who responded quickly and effectively to this massive crisis.