Chilliwack’s Heritage Park is providing refuge for horses that have been evacuated due to rising flood waters.
“We have 150 stalls, and by day’s end all 150 will be set up,” said Heritage Park president Anna Macedo Wednesday morning. “There are some people who are able to self pen, and they are welcome to come on site, and there are people who own the horses who have no place to go, and they’re welcome to stay on site as well.
“Even people who don’t have horses but just need a place to put their RV, and they can come on site too. We’re trying to help as much as we can with the resources that we have.”
Macedo said they are scrambling to find volunteers. Right now it’s mostly Heritage Park staffers taking care of things like cleaning out stalls and putting bedding down.
“The best thing to do is come into our office (through the front door to the left). We will see what needs to be done and put them to work accordingly,” Macedo said, adding that she expects all 150 stalls will be filled by evacuated horses.
Feeding horses and people is a need, and Macedo noted the generosity of several companies who have chipped in to help.
“I can’t even mention all the companies by name because I’ll miss someone and I really don’t want to do that,” she said. “Suffice to say we live in a very wonderful community. We’re very blessed. A lot of businesses have donated food, not only for the people who are stuck here, but also for the horses. Bedding for the horses. Feed for the horses. Porta-potties. People have come on board in a big way so we can continue with this effort.”
Lorene Mercier was evacuated from Yarrow and needed a place for her 14-year-old horse Topaz.
“Everyone has been super here,” she said. “Everything has been super organized. I can’t say enough about how helpful they’ve been. They’ve had food for us and feed for the horses. No one wants to go through this, but to have to go through this, people here have been pretty darn good.”
Mercier is staying with her daughter Danni in Promontory and isn’t sure when she’ll be able to take Topaz home. She doesn’t know what she would have done if Heritage Park hadn’t opened its doors.
“We’re waiting for the dike to break through, and everything is going to be under water soon where we are,” she said. “I’m as old as the hills and I’ve never, ever experienced anything like this. All of us are feeling 100 per cent anxious. A lot of our friends in Yarrow had to turn their livestock loose. It’s quite sad.”
Heritage Park has been open since 2001, and Macedo they’ve never had a situation even remotely like this.
But she is encouraged by how the equine community has rallied together.
“These are trying times, but everyone has rallied to the occasion and the animals that are here are OK,” she said. “We’re all in this together and we will pull through. Whenever there is need, this community tends to pull together.”