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Man and his dog rescued by boat from rising flood waters in Yarrow

‘Fear of pump station breaking, Fraser River flowing through made me want to die,’ says rescued man
Jordan Jongema and his dog Bowser were rescued from rising flood waters in Yarrow in the early hours of Nov. 17, 2021. (Jordan Jongema)

By the time Jordan Jongema and his 120-pound dog were rescued from the rapidly rising flood waters in Yarrow it was almost dawn on Wednesday.

He was feeling grateful and singing the praises of his rescuers from Coquitlam Fire Department and Search and Rescue who shuttled them to safety by boat.

Jongema and his Bernese Mountain Dog, Bowser, spent hours waiting for help to arrive in what he described as the most stressful night of his life.

It all started as he was getting ready to leave Yarrow on Tuesday afternoon, when he noticed water levels rising rather quickly.

Worried about looters, he had returned to the family home in Yarrow to check on it, and get supplies, as his parents were on vacation as the evacuation alert came through.

Just as Jongema, who lives in the Okanagan, was getting ready to leave, a massive wave of flood water washed over the road.

“The water easily would have flipped my car and killed myself and my dog.”

So he turned around and hunkered down for the next 10 hours.

It was “terrifying” to watch hour after agonizing hour as the water rose outside – and inside the house.

“The water filled up a foot every other hour, by the time it was midnight, I was wading though the kitchen, swimming in the backyard up to my chest, trying to find any flotation devices.”

It was pitch black and he was in the frigid water, wondering how he was going to get his big pooch up on the roof.

His phone died around 2 a.m.

Jongema was emotionally destroyed. He worried the house would be underwater by morning.

”The fear of the pump station breaking and the Fraser River flowing through made me want to die,” he said.

Around 3:30 a.m. he heard a boat motor. It was his rescuers.

”I screamed out the window, flailing the flashlight and got their attention.”

He launched his big dog up and through a window out of the flooded house, and crawled onto a rescue boat piloted by Coquitlam Fire Department, and Search and Rescue personnel.

They were shuttled exhausted and cold to a safer spot a few kilometres away.

Jongema and Bowser were safe and dry, on Whatcom Mountain and talking to the media in the aftermath.

It turns out there were hundreds of people and “randoms” online trying to help rescuers find him.

“I love each and every person who helped me get noticed and helped,” Jongema wrote in a gratitude post.

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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