TFC News

Filipino farm workers among those affected by British Columbia flooding

Rowena Papasin | TFC News British Columbia, Canada

Posted at Nov 21 2021 05:19 PM

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Jojo Diaz is among the farm workers at Dykman Cattle who were affected by the heavy flooding in the Sumas Prairie region of Abbotsford, British Columbia in Canada. Diaz said flood waters rose quickly last Monday as the rain poured non-stop and water from the Nooksack River in the United States overflowed to Sumas Prairie.

"Mga dalawang oras tumaas na agad yung tubig... Akala mo parang nasa Pilipinas, yung Ondoy. Kaya nagpanic ako kasi wala na akong pagkain nung time na yun (In two hours, water immediately rose... You would think you were in the Philippines, during Ondoy. I panicked because I didn't have any more food at that time)," Diaz shared.

Their employer immediately sent a payloader to fetch Diaz and five other Filipino workers who live in a staff house outside the farm. "Di na kami pwedeng lumabas kasi hinarangan na yung mga daanan. Bawal na pong lumabas at pumasok dahil masyado nang lumaki yung tubig. Tumaas nang tumaas na kaya na-stuck kami sa bahay (We couldn't go out anymore because of roadblocks. We were not allowed to go out and come back because there was flooding everywhere. The water kept rising so we got stuck inside the house)."

With water supply also cut off due to possible contamination, Diaz posted a request for bottled water through social media and fellow Filipinos quickly responded. Seeing his post, the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver also reached out to Diaz and the other Filipino temporary foreign workers at the farm.

"Yung POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor & Office) nag-message po sa akin kasi nabasa niya yung aking comment. Tinatanong kami kung gusto na namin pa-evacuate dahil tutulong daw po sila kung anong gagawin para sa amin. Then magbibigay sila ng food at saka ng water and yung shelter, ihahatid nila kami. Bale ang sinabi ko lang po, safe naman po kami dito sa lugar namin (POLO messaged me because they read my comment, and asked if we would like to be evacuated because they will help with whatever is needed. Then they will also give us food, water and they will bring us to the shelter. But I told them that we're safe in our area)," Diaz said.

Meanwhile, Flory Luistro said they were lucky enough to have been spared from the flood. But she knows of other Filipino friends who got stuck in Hope, another city that was submerged in flood, as well as in Merritt where the highway leading to Vancouver was closed due to flood damage.

Luistro also noted that panic buying has started at their local grocery. "Everyone is getting their water, tapos grocery... Sa office namin, sabi nga mag-store ng bottled water (Even my office advised us to store bottled water)," Luistro said.

B.C. is now under a state of emergency and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave his assurance that the federal government will give the province all the support it needs during the extreme weather condition.

In the meantime, Diaz said they will continue working at the farm until there is an order for them to evacuate.