Military dispatched to B.C. to help clean up and rebuild after historic floods

November 19, 2021
Military dispatched to B.C. to help clean up and rebuild after historic floods
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THE LATEST:

  • More than 100 Canadian Armed Forces personnel have landed in Abbotsford, B.C. to help with emergency operations in the flood-ravaged Fraser Valley area. They will help construct a flood levee in the city on Friday.

  • B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province would consider implementing travel restrictions under its state of emergency on Friday.

  • Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the province is receiving aid from other jurisdictions to help farmers and ranchers in the Fraser Valley.

  • Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says urgent dike repairs are needed to avert catastrophic flooding in the city, and the total cost of rebuilding in the city could exceed $1 billion.

  • Highway 7 from Vancouver to Hope, B.C. was opened to essential travel, with 1,000 people stranded in Hope already making their way home on Thursday.

  • As of Thursday evening, 17,000 people remained away from their homes due to the floods and landslides.

  • For a list of up-to-date flood warnings, visit the River Forecast Centre.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to help British Columbia recover from catastrophic flooding and mudslides that destroyed critical infrastructure, highways, and farmland this week — and forced thousands to flee their homes.

Trudeau said 120 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been dispatched to Abbotsford, B.C., one of the worst hit areas east of Vancouver, and another 350 members are standing by in Edmonton. Soldiers have rescued about 300 people, he told a news conference after the North American Leaders’ Summit in Washington

Beginning Friday, military members will help construct a 2.5 kilometre flood levee in Abbotsford, in B.C.’s Fraser Valley east of Vancouver. It’s hoped the levee will stop water from spilling across the Trans Canada Highway.

Ranchers and farmers in B.C.’s Fraser Valley have been particularly hard hit by floods, with the region containing half of the province’s dairy farms. Many of those farms are in Abbotsford, with hundreds of farms flooded in the low-lying Sumas Prairie region east of the city.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the price tag for fixing the damaged infrastructure in the town of 120,000 could reach $1 billion.

The floods were triggered by historic rainfall on the weekend. More than 20 daily rainfall records shattered across the province.

By Thursday evening, more than 17,000 residents were still out of their homes, and people in another 7,000 properties have been ordered to leave throughout the province. About 2,700 properties in B.C. were under evacuation alert.

WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledges support for B.C.:

Trudeau says 120 soldiers are on the ground in Abbotsford, B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided a late-night update on the federal government’s support for British Columbia, which is currently in a state of emergency. 1:14

Meanwhile, reconstruction and cleanup efforts have begun across the province. At a media conference Thursday afternoon, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said construction companies and workers were eager to get started.

Farnworth said it was too early to assess the monetary impact of the devastating floods, but the province has asked Ottawa for help, and is prepared to bear the fiscal costs involved.

Other jurisdictions to help B.C.’s animals

At the media conference, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said other provinces and Washington state have offered to send resources to help the province’s farm animals. Many animals were trapped in barns without clean food or water, and owners were ordered to evacuate without their animals in tow.

Popham had said earlier in the week that thousands of animals had perished in the floods. On Thursday, she said the province was using helicopters to drop water and aid isolated farmers

A commanding officer talks to soldiers gathered at Abbotsford airport. More than 100 soldiers have arrived in the Fraser Valley region to assist with emergency management. (Francois Joly/CBC)

“Some feed at the Port of Vancouver that was destined to go to China will be re-routed to the Valley,” she said.

Braun, the mayor of Abbotsford, said he’s concerned that more rain is on the way.

“We are not out of this by a long shot,” said Braun on Thursday morning. “I’m not concerned about today’s rain, what I’m concerned about is next week, there’s predicted 80 to 100 millimetres.”

Farmers carry their livestock out of a flooded barn in Abbotsford. The city southeast of Vancouver has half of B.C.’s dairy farms and has been hit badly by the devastating floods. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Highways reopen as province mulls travel restrictions

More than 1,000 people who were stranded in the community of Hope, B.C. east of Vancouver have been reunited with their families after an overnight train on Wednesday night and the opening of Highway 7 to essential traffic.

Part of Highway 1 on Vancouver Island, known as the Malahat, was also reopened ahead of time.

B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming also said limited travel might soon be possible on Highway 99, where one person lost their life in a mudslide. RCMP said four other people were reported missing along the highway.

Farnworth said on Thursday the province would be using its powers under the state of emergency to restrict travel on the highways undergoing repairs to commercial vehicles and essential traffic.

He said a “traffic plan” would be put in place, with more details to come on Friday.

READ MORE:


Anyone placed under evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

To find an evacuation centre close to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Road conditions can be checked at DriveBC.



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