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Search and rescue group now working Abbotsford flood experience into training

SAR team now knows where the bigger areas of concern will be in future flooding events
Search and rescue volunteers are now working what they learned during the floods into their training. (Submitted)

The Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue team learned invaluable lessons in the November 2021 floods that will be used for years to come.

While the group of volunteers had an idea of what a full-scale flood response would require of them, everything was hypothetical and based on smaller events.

During the flooding, the brave volunteers rescued more than 200 people, day and night. Putting in a dozen 12-hour operational periods – and organizing the mutual aid of seven other ground search and rescue groups – they actually lost count of the rescues. And they did this all while their own hall was under flood evacuation orders and they were relocated to the University of the Fraser Valley parking lot.

James Roe, president of the organization, said they already have a document to work with moving forward.

“Our team’s safety officer developed a report that we have been using to help us establish pre-plans for future flooding events,” he told The News. “We’ve been able to identify areas that, when flooded, are more hazardous than others, which will determine how we decide to operate in those areas.”

He said they are also planning to improve the training levels of the current water rescue members “to help our members in the field be better prepared for the risks associated with flood operations.”

They were able to purchase a new jet boat thanks to the community giving back to them during and after the flooding. It is still under construction due to supply chain issues, but they have also acquired a new, unpowered watercraft to help reach and rescue stranded people.

For all of their hard work, the group was also given the inaugural John MacGregor Memorial Award by the B.C. Search and Rescue Association earlier this year. The award memorializes MacGregor, Canada’s most decorated soldier for valour.

The Central Fraser Valley team shared the financial award with the teams that helped with the efforts: the SAR teams in Coquitlam, Ridge Meadows, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, North Shore Rescue and South Fraser.

“It was a big test for us,” Roe said at the time of the award. “We hadn’t been faced with anything like that before, considering how quickly things evolved from going from telling people they needed to evacuate to actually going in boats in a matter of hours.”

READ MORE: Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue awarded for rescuing 200 people during Abbotsford flooding

READ MORE: Abbotsford flood one year later: Timeline of a disaster

For more, see The Abbotsford News’ special section Stronger Together. The Flood: One Year Later.


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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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