Manitoba Daily

Monday, November 29, 2021

Massive floods in western Canada have left thousands trapped

Key takeaways:

  • The flooding comes only months after the province saw record-breaking temperatures because of a “heat dome” in summer.
  • Due to mudslides, more than 1,000 people were stuck in Hope, roughly 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of Vancouver.

The flooding comes only months after a “heat dome” delivered record temperatures to the province this summer, causing huge wildfires to damage numerous BC municipalities.

While experts have warned that the climate issue makes weather events more harsh and frequent, those blazes may have left hills barren of vegetation, contributing to flooding and mudslides.

On Thursday, Canada’s minister of emergency preparedness, Bill Blair, said that the federal government would help BC reconstruct and restore essential infrastructure in flood-affected areas.

Also read: Tonnes of Manitoba grain are languishing on trains after B.C. floods

“I understand that there is still a lot of uncertainty and concern during this extremely difficult period,” Blair told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

“However, I want to reassure all Canadians, particularly the people of British Columbia, that we will be there to give help and relief and that we will work closely with all levels of government to ensure that they receive the necessary support and services.”

Shihab Rattansi of Al Jazeera, reporting from Abbotsford, a hamlet approximately 70 kilometres (43 miles) east of Vancouver that was heavily impacted by the flooding, said there is still a lot of uncertainty.

“Just because the floodwaters have receded doesn’t mean the roads, bridges, and highways are safe,” Rattansi said. “Large swaths of land are still submerged due to the amount of water that dropped – a month’s worth of rain in just two days on Sunday and Monday.” As a result, this area’s economic activity has been badly harmed.”

BC Premier John Horgan, who issued a state of emergency on Wednesday, stated earlier in the day that the death toll from the floods, which is presently at one, is likely to grow.

Officials in Abbotsford were worried that the floodwaters might overwhelm the local pumping station, forcing the evacuation of all 160,000 residents.

“It’s the worst flooding I’ve ever seen,” said resident Steve Gosselin to the AFP news agency.

According to Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, hundreds of residents were evacuated from the Sumas Prairie overnight because a pump station was at risk of being overrun by a flood of water transported north from the Nooksack River in the United States.

Thousands remain stranded by massive floods in western Canada

On Thursday, Braun said the pumping station’s status had not changed and that the water was retreating “at a really good clip (pace)” in some regions, but that the issue was far from resolved.

“We’re still in the recovery phase of this emergency,” he said during a press conference, adding that additional heavy rain was expected next week.

“We’re not out of this by a long shot,” Braun said, adding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several provincial ministers had pledged him assistance. “I believe whatever they say. But I’ve also braced them for a hefty bill at the end of this,” he said, estimating that local damage may cost up to $792 million to fix.

This strongly suggests that the eventual expenses related to the BC flooding will be significantly greater than the $285 million in insured damages associated with wildfires that ravaged Alberta’s oil-producing province of Fort McMurray in May 2016.

“This is without a doubt the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.” “Won’t even come close,” tweeted Blake Shaffer, a climate policy expert at the University of Calgary.

Farmers say the disruption to operations at Vancouver’s port will worsen existing supply chain concerns and may even make finding Christmas trees more difficult.

According to BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, thousands of agricultural animals have died, and many more are in “tough situations,” confined and facing food and water shortages.

Meanwhile, the Canadian military joined the rescue attempts on Thursday, sending a Hercules transport plane, six search helicopters, and hundreds of troops to the area, with thousands more standing by.

“Assistance with evacuations, transfer of emergency response personnel and equipment, and area reconnaissance” would be among their responsibilities.

More than 1,000 people were stuck in Hope, roughly 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of Vancouver, due to mudslides, rocks, and debris between Sunday and Monday.

Meanwhile, after a woman’s body was found this week in a mudslide near Lillooet, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Vancouver, the search for more probable victims continues. At least four individuals are still missing in the mudslide, according to federal authorities.

Source: CBC News

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