The Plett family did everything they could to save their vehicles as the floodwaters quickly rose at their home in the Arnold area of Sumas Prairie.
They moved them to the highest point nearby, along the road. But in the end, the water won the day and they lost four vehicles.
One of them belonged to their youngest child, Jennifer. The 18-year-old had lovingly detailed the red Honda Civic, finishing the grueling job just days before the flood hit Abbotsford.
Like so many others, the car became completely submerged and was a total loss.
“It’s hard to come back to,” her mom Barb said, seeing everything sitting in deep water and knowing it had been even higher.
But Jennifer rolled up her sleeves and helped with the restoration efforts alongside the family, friends, and even strangers. Because of her constant hard work and dedication, her grandmother thought she would be the perfect nominee for the Honda Way Car Giveaway. She had read about it in the Abbotsford News and knew her granddaughter had earned it.
The whole family was in on the secret, and they drove her to the Fraser Valley Auto Mall under the guise of car shopping on Dec. 23.
The dealership’s general manager Brendon Hall said they were all thrilled to be giving back to the community, and they had more than 80 nominees to consider.
“This is so great,” he exclaimed, as he waited for Jennifer and her family.
They were met by sales manager Jeremy Arksey out in the lot, as they all pretended to be meeting for the first time.
Of course, for Jennifer, it was a first.
As they walked her around to a showroom bay, they let her in on the secret — that she’d be leaving with a car for sure, and for free. The entire family was twinkling with excitement over this surprise Christmas gift from the dealership. Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when they pointed her toward a pretty, blue 2009 Honda Civic.
It even had a big red Christmas bow on top.
Her father, Paul, had the hardest time keeping it all to himself. And he’s so thrilled his daughter was chosen from the many who were nominated.
“You think about all the people who need something like this,” he said. “You want it to go to the best person, and I think it has.”
Her older sister Brianna was on hand to join in the fun. Both the girls live at home with their parents as they finish school, and living in Arnold means either being isolated or needing a car.
“There are no buses,” she said. “If you don’t have a car there is no way to get in and out.”
Jennifer is studying piano and aims to be a piano teacher when she’s finished school. While she was all smiles, quietly checking out her new ride’s bells and whistles, her family stood around chatting about the devastation they’ve all been through the past few weeks. To get one of them a reliable vehicle again is a huge relief to all of them.
There is no way her parents could afford to buy her a car right now, Jennifer said, with all the costs of restoring the house ahead of them. They still aren’t even living back at home yet. So she was wondering what was going on, she admitted.
But all her questions and worries melted away after a quick test drive.
“It’s the perfect car for her,” her dad beamed.