The Lower Mainland was hit by a devastating flooding earlier this week that has caused immense loss in our community. British Columbia has declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, and working on the more pressing points such as search and rescue, assessment of roads and railway, and water level control. As the water recedes, some roads have been partially opened, which allows at least some essential transit of goods and people.
At the Dairy Centre, we have been quite lucky during the past few days. Most importantly, all staff, students, and scholars are safe and sound. Our animals have not been directly affected, and no immediate damage has been observed in our facilities.
As most of you know, the agriculture sector has been severely affected and the dairy industry was no exception. About 60 dairies, most in Abbotsford, were on alert or evacuation order while a significant number of animals were stranded in the barns. The damage is still being assessed, but it was truly upsetting to see farmers surrounded by water trying to move their animals into higher ground. From now on, the Dairy Centre will be communicating with the B.C. Dairy Association and close partners to understand how we can best assist our fellow farmers.
As for us at the Dairy Centre, a few disruptions are indeed on our radar. As the supply lines have been cut and with no timeline to normalcy on the horizon, we expect all types of shortages. We were already expecting to start dumping milk, but luckily the milk pick-up truck was able to empty our tank yesterday. Indeed, a small victory in the middle of this chaos.
A significant challenge now is the shortage of grains and concentrate feeding. As of today, we are already feeding significantly less concentrate to the animals. We expect a sharp drop in milk production and likely changes in behaviour, so please be patient as most research projects will be directly or indirectly affected.
On a different note, if any of our students have been affected by flooding and need urgent financial support – if they are stranded or have lost personal goods, for instance – Student Services has provided an update on who students can contact. They can get in touch with their Enrolment Services Advisor to ask about emergency relief funds. This applies to undergraduate students, graduate and postgraduate students. This link provides further information: https://students.ubc.ca/enrolment/finances/funding-studies/financial-emergencies.
Lastly, keep in mind that safety of everyone and of our animals is paramount. We are here to support you in any way. Please, do not hesitate to contact us anytime. This link has also more information from the province about emergency guidelines and latest information related to the flooding: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/
Take care and stay safe,
Ronaldo Cerri – Associate Professor and DERC Director
Nelson Dinn – DERC Associate Director