CAWSTON (NEWS 1130) – It happened so fast, and there was barely any time to prepare.
“The water basically was almost like a tsunami,” she tells NEWS 1130. “The dike runs around three quarters of the property and the water just came through like a literal tsunami, over the dike.”
She says the wave filled the embankments almost like a bathtub. “The dike is about seven meters above the shoreline, and so once the water had crested and blown the dike part it just filled the property up just like a basin.”
Grown Here Farms borders the Similkameen River and is the largest organic farm in the region. McInnes says the property is well engineered with a full system of drainage and culverts.
“We are one of the most well engineered farms,” she says. “We’ve never [seen this]. The only word for it is apocalyptic, there would have been no preparation. We had less than an hour to evacuate.”
She describes the moment the flood waters breached the dikes, saying it was like an explosion. With barely any time to get their affairs in order, McInnes says employees focused on getting all the people, animals and important equipment to higher ground.
McInnes says the entire property is now sitting under about six feet of water, including the fields of root vegetables the company grows.
“It’s toast. Anything that was in the ground has now been compromised, everything’s just been washed away.”
She adds it’s hard to say exactly how much the company has lost.
“It’s really hard to quantify right now because we have a massive cold storage facility, we have housing for our workers,” she explains. “Everything is now under water, all the irrigation lines. Our main house appears to be alright, so we won’t really know until we get in to the property how bad the damage is.”
Despite a lot of unknown, McInnes is keeping a positive attitude, already looking ahead to being able to begin planting once the water recededs. “We’re just kind of adapting and adjusting for a later season harvest, and then looking at different things that we can plant that are later-season, so we don’t lose the whole year.”
She adds another job for those in the region now will be to get all the necessary information packaged together to help insurance agents, disaster relief workers and other agencies who are there to help. “To do their job more effectively and more efficiently when they’re going to be massively overwhelmed with claims and issues and damage. So we’re turning our focus to that, and just keeping our fingers crossed that the damage isn’t too extensive.”
The flood was disheartening, she admits, especially for her guys on the ground. “Because for them, they love the work that they do. They’re really passionate about it and they care, they really care, so it was watching everything we just worked so hard for get washed away. But once we regrouped to the team, we’re super positive.”
Warm temperatures and a fast-melting snow pack have contributed to fast rising waters around the southern interior in recent weeks.
“This is one of those things you don’t have the ability to control, so we just kind of are very surrendered to what’s happening,” McInnes says.