Come hell or high water, a man’s best friend will stick by his side.
Jordan Jongema is finally getting a chance to breathe after he and Bowser, a 120-pound Bernese mountain dog, were rescued earlier this week after flood waters breached his home and left Jongema and Bowser stranded.
“Those 10 hours were easily the most terrifying times I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Jongema wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday morning detailing the ordeal that unfolded Monday evening and into the early hours of Tuesday.
Jongema had been collecting supplies and was preparing to leave his Yarrow home on Monday evening when he noticed water begin to rise.
“I had heard there were looters going around Yarrow to empty houses so shame on me for staying just a few minutes too long to protect the place,” he wrote.
When Jongema started pulling out of the driveway, “a massive wave of water started to rush through” over the roadway and into his front yard. Fearing the debris-filled water would flip his car and have been fatal for him and Bowser, he turned around and decided to remain inside his home.
Jongema described seeing the water filling the home with another foot of water every two hours.
“By the time it was midnight, I was wading through the kitchen, swimming in the backyard up to my chest, trying to find any flotation devices,” he wrote. “Pitch black and freezing cold water for hours.”
By 1 a.m., the water was up to Jongema’s knees. He said uncertainty about how to get Bowser onto the roof of his home and his phone battery dying around 2 a.m. on Tuesday left him “emotionally butchered.”
“The fear of the pump station breaking and the Fraser River flowing through made me want to die. Bows and I lay on my bed with the water half-an-inch from covering it,” he wrote, adding he feared the entire house would be underwater by morning.
At around 3:30 a.m., Jongema said he heard a boat nearby and screamed out the window, shone a flashlight and tried to get their attention. When the rescuers neared the home, Jongema said he threw Bowser up through a window and crawled out onto the raft himself.
After sailing back to dry land a few kilometres away, Jongema and Bowser were driven to a safe landing spot.
On Thursday morning, Jongema told Postmedia News that he was making plans to stay up north in the meantime.
During a briefing with emergency officials Thursday morning, Abbotsford Fire Chief Darren Lee shared the good news story of Jongema and Bowser being rescued
“I believe it was Coquitlam Fire or Coquitlam SAR, actually, went and got that dog right near the end of the (rescue) queue. He’s a service dog and so the fellow was just over the moon.”
Lee said he was sent photos from the rescue crew of the Bernese mountain dog riding in an Abbotsford fire truck en route to safety.
“So it was really cool that they were able to pull that off. That was good customer service, definitely worth the risk,” said Lee. “They assessed what was going on and they felt it was a low risk and so they decided to go for it and reunite those two.”
At Thursday’s briefing, officials said 11 people were rescued overnight, while 40 farmers remained in the eastern part of the Sumas Prairie tending to their properties and livestock.
“We are not out of this by a long shot,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun.
There are still no totals on how many animals have been lost to the flood at this time, though the damage to livestock, property and infrastructure is expected to reach into the hundreds-of-millions of dollars, not including the rebuilding of the dike.