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BC flood: Sumas Prairie family suffers millions of dollars in damage, it will take years to recover

Abbotsford, BC –

Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie area experienced the most severe and prolonged impact of the devastating floods following the atmospheric river last month, and evacuation orders for the area are now being lifted in phases. , the property owners are looking at the full extent of the damage.

The Mostertman family’s basement is still full of water, but the knee-high water level on the main floor of their home has receded to reveal significant damage to altars with barely any precious keepsakes and water. The flood was up to their necks, causing their family’s business to be inundated. devastation.

“It was almost like something from a war zone,” said Caroline Mostertman as she took CTV News on a tour of the muddy grounds that once housed a rustic chic tasting room for the Winery. Ripple Estate, an idyllic old warehouse themed wedding venue, a botanical nursery and a distillery.

Shattered Christmas decorations, filthy household items, water-soaked antiques and stone-age costumes were just some of the damage. Bottle after bottle of wine and brandy would almost be destroyed, and the family hoped the blueberries and grapes would be lost as well.

“It’s not just physical damage, it’s future damage, because we don’t have immediate inventory (for sale) and with our 20 acres of blueberries already flooded. in two weeks, those plants won’t be able to survive.” German. “Grape and blueberries, we have to replant and it will be five years before we get anything out of them.”

The Christmas season, which accounts for a third of their sales, is a sale season. Dozens of full-time employees have been laid off and the family is now relying on the few remaining employees, friends and volunteers to help them clean up.

ENTIRE FAMILY IMPACTED BY ERROR AND SLIDING

Caroline and Paul co-own the winery and venue, but their daughter’s distillery – New Wave Distilling – is also on the property, and her equipment is badly damaged.

“As a still modernized building, everything is electronic, but our entire dashboard was submerged and there was still water (due to flooding) inside,” said Kelsey Mostertman. Kelsey Mostertman said. “All the wine tanks were raised and the nozzles broke and any wine we had here was lost… Due to pandemic supply issues we had to give up most of the bottle caps. his glass and switched to cork and all those bottles were spoiled. ”

Kelsey’s brother was caught in a slide that sent his car into a river, while Paul and one of the family’s longtime employees were trapped by a landslide near Hope. Caroline was alone when the water began to rise on the property they had owned and raised for 40 years.

In an act of desperation, she threw a wire mesh over Paul’s prized koi fish – some of which were 20 years old and two feet long – but they swam away in the meter-deep floodwater. . Hard-earned equipment and products turned into crumbs, and debris was still scattered around the grounds and on both sides of the road, where many ditches were still filled with water.

A LONG RECOVERY

The winery, like many farms and small businesses on Sumas Prarie, is not eligible for current flood relief programs offered by the provincial government and is not insured. Caroline Mostertman is optimistic that help will be available in some form, but in the meantime the family is working around the clock to do what they can to revive themselves.

Mostertman said: “Crying doesn’t help. “We will be back next summer. I have a deadline because May is my first wedding. I’ll have this ready at that time. ”

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