Volunteers with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society were watching water rise mere feet away from the main barn Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 30, where toys and clothes sit waiting to be handed out to those less fortunate for Christmas.
Lorraine Bates, chair of the society, said she is expecting the barn to be flooded again by Dec. 1. But she is still holding onto hope that won’t be the case.
The barn already flooded on Monday Nov. 15, during the first weather system that hit the area causing massive flooding in Abbotsford and other regions across the province.
Bates couldn’t even recognize the fairgrounds after the initial downpour.
“It looked like a big lake,” said Bates. “Even the gravel parking lot was full of water, we could hardly get to the building,” she noted.
However, at that time the barn was still empty and volunteers were able to power wash the floors, getting out all of the silt that washed in and allowing the barn to dry.
Then on Friday, Nov. 19, a group of local Realtors set up tables for volunteers from Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball Association, who turned out the following day to put out the toys.
On Sunday, Nov. 28, Bates said, they were flooded again.
This time the flood waters caused some damage to new clothing being stored in cardboard boxes. The boxes were put in upside down plastic tote lids that were at least four inches high. Volunteers thought the boxes would be safe.
“But the water was higher than the tote (lid),” said Bates. She also lost a couple of toys.
A volunteer has since washed and dried all the clothing, added Bates, but now the water is back. And, she said, she is becoming anxious every time she goes down to the fairgrounds because she doesn’t know what she will be walking into.
Although there has been minimal damage to the items in the barn, Bates has had to close shop to people picking up their Christmas hampers on Monday and Tuesday this week because the floor was still wet from the last flooding. And she is expecting to be closed Wednesday and Thursday as well.
“We’ll resume shopping on Friday if everything goes well,” she said.
So far the amount of people who have registered for Christmas hampers is low, so the disruption to the service has not impacted a lot of families.
Bates is grateful that the losses have been minimal.
She is trying to put it into perspective, because, she said, there are so many people who have lost their homes and their animals.
“This is stuff and stuff can be replaced.”
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