Adrienne Bootsma and son Jaron watch as Canoe Creek begins to recede. Family, neighbours and others worked until about 1:30 a.m. Thursday to build a wall of sandbags to protect the Bootsma’s home. Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer

Canoe home saved from flooding

Neighbours work through night, in rain and high water, to contain water from Canoe Creek

Canoe resident Adrienne Bootsma is indebted to the friends, aquaitances and strangers who worked through the night Friday to save her home from flooding.

Late in the afternoon on Friday, May 5 – amid the heavy rains that pummelled the Shuswap throughout the day – Bootsma saw that Canoe Creek, which runs adjacent to her property, had burst its banks and was rapidly spreading towards her home.

Bev Wice, Bootsma’s mother, said a trip was made to the City of Salmon Arm public works yard to gather sandbags and sand. City staff were asked if they could help, and Wice said the city was able to drop off a couple of loads of sand at Bootsma’s house. Though appreciated, this was nowhere near enough to do the job that needed to be done.

Thankfully, Wice explained, an unknown “good samaritan” saw Bootsma’s property and made a telephone call. Soon after, a dump truck from Bland’s Farm Sales arrived, dropping off a load of sand right at Bootsma’s doorstep.

Meanwhile, a call for help was put out on Facebook. In response, approximately 60 people showed up at Bootsma’s and helped to pack, carry and build a wall of sandbags along the side of her home. They worked through the cold rain and flowing high water until about 1:30 in the morning.

Twelve hours later, the water still reaches the sandbags, but not as far up the five-bag high wall as the night before. And though there are still some minor structural issues due to ground saturation, Bootsma is in good spirits and grateful to all who helped out.

“I’m just amazed at the outpouring of support,” said Bootsma. “And to be honest, I didn’t know 80 per cent of the people that were here. And I was just floored by how many people from Canoe came to help me out… I don’t know a lot of my neighbours but I do now, and I’m just blown away.”

Bootsma said she’s lived at her Canoe home for about 13 years, and though the creek has escaped its banks in the past, it has never come near her home, let alone threatened to undermine it.

Wice, too, was grateful for, and impressed with the outpouring of support she’s seen, not just at her daughter’s house, but elsewhere in the Shuswap where the recent flooding and road conditions have caused turmoil.

“I think, you, know, the communities rallies around it,” said Wice. “People want to help because this is a serious situation. And people get to meet their neighbours. It’s a horrible thing to have to happen, but it’s amazing how people reach out to each other in times of need.”

Asked what she’d do with the sandbags once the water has receded and they’re no longer needed, Bootsma suggested a sandbag cutting/barbecue, as a way of repaying the neighbourhood.

“I don’t think I’ve worked that hard or packed that many sandbags in my whole life,” laughed Bootsma. “I was pretty sore but just thankful for the help of all of my neighbours.”

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