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

Team of volunteers awarded for outstanding efforts with inaugural John MacGregor Award
Search and Rescue teams from across the Lower Mainland helped rescue people from the flooding in Abbotsford. (Central Fraser Valley SAR/Special to The News)

Search and rescue volunteers saved more than 200 people in Abbotsford during the catastrophic flooding in November.

The Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue team (CFVSAR) mobilized quickly when it was announced that the pump station may not be able to handle the historic amount of rainfall in the region. It didn’t, and within a matter of hours, the volunteers were out rescuing those who were stranded in the Sumas Prairie flood zone.

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.

And for their “extraordinary effort,” the CFVSAR has been awarded the inaugural John MacGregor Memorial Award by the B.C. Search and Rescue Association.

The Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue team was awarded the inaugural John MacGregor Memorial Award for their efforts during the flooding in Abbotsford in November 2021. (Submitted)

The award memorializes MacGregor, Canada’s most decorated soldier for valour. It also recognizes the 3,000 professional ground search and rescue volunteers in British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSAR)

“As MacGregor did as a fearless leader in the First World War, these Search and Rescue volunteers often put themselves in harm’s way to selflessly save souls under extreme and dangerous conditions,” said Chris Mushumanski, BCSARA president.

The award was established by John MacGregor Horne, who is named after MacGregor.

“I am confident would be pleased and honoured to know the association has decided to bestow the inaugural John MacGregor Memorial Award on all members of Central Fraser Valley SAR Team and the seven other ground search and rescue groups who performed above and beyond during the devastating flood disaster last fall” Horne said. “I congratulate and thank all of them for their magnificent efforts.”

The award also includes a prize of $8,500 for the team. James Roe, president of CFVSAR, said that since the flooding the community has been very generous with donations to the team. They’ve been able to repair equipment that was damaged, and are now even looking forward to replacing some equipment.

“It was a big test for us,” he said. “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.”

He said the seven teams that helped them made a huge difference in their response, bringing in volunteers and equipment that made the rescue efforts a success.

So, they have forgone the financial award and passed it on to those teams: Coquitlam SAR, Ridge Meadows SAR, Mission SAR, Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR, North Shore Rescue and South Fraser SAR.

“We wanted to, in some small way, show our thanks to our search and rescue members that came out to help,” he said.

Moving forward, CFVSAR will be updating their training as well as equipment.

“It gave us a real world experience,” he said, and the lessons they learned will be carried forward. “Now we know what to do when this happens.”

READ MORE: Mission Search and Rescue volunteers detail ‘surreal’ Sumas flood operations


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