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‘A monumental task’: B.C. braces for more storms as flood repairs continue

Click to play video: 'While B.C. braces for more storms, deputy premier says crews working around the clock' While B.C. braces for more storms, deputy premier says crews working around the clock
Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said Wednesday communities are bracing for the first of three storms set to hit B.C. Wednesday overnight. He said crews are working around the clock to prepare and make sure repairs are holding and there is no further damage – Nov 24, 2021

B.C. is bracing for more storms to hit the province while crews are still working on critical repairs in areas hit by the previous storm.

The first of three new atmospheric rivers is forecast to arrive overnight Wednesday and into Thursday.

“Having several destructive storms in a row is not normal,” Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said Wednesday.

He said the ground is already saturated and the damage caused by wildfires and droughts has only made the situation more difficult in some areas.

“It’s a monumental task,” Farnworth added.

Click to play video: 'B.C. flood: Evacuees to get financial support' B.C. flood: Evacuees to get financial support
B.C. flood: Evacuees to get financial support – Nov 24, 2021

Read more: Years of warnings about poor flood plans ignored prior to B.C. floods, says consulting firm

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Meanwhile, B.C. is heading back into a period of a parade of storms with very little break expected.

Global BC Meteorologist Kristi Gordon says these storms are on top of the 200-per-cent-plus above-average precipitation the province has seen in many areas already this fall.

This next series of storms could put November into record-breaking territory for rainfall as the first three are expected to be atmospheric rivers, Gordon said.

The first of the series will hit the coast late Wednesday with the heaviest precipitation for the South Coast expected Wednesday night through early Friday.

Read more: Next 3 storms to hit B.C. expected to be atmospheric rivers

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Environment Canada warns of more heavy rainfall ahead' B.C. floods: Environment Canada warns of more heavy rainfall ahead
B.C. floods: Environment Canada warns of more heavy rainfall ahead – Nov 23, 2021

Crews are still working to repair and strengthen the dike on the Sumas Prairie where many people remain out of their homes and farms and where thousands of animals have died.

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The military is now in Princeton helping to sandbag and protect the community from more flooding.

Meanwhile, conditions between Merritt and Spences Bridge “remain very dire” Farnworth said.

The timeline for when this route may reopen is not yet known.

The province has opened a new phone line for people to get information on the floods, including aid, road conditions and travel.

The toll-free phone number 1-833-376-2452 will be open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Farnworth said donations for flood relief are also pouring in, supply lines are stabilizing and shortages of food and fuel are starting to ease in many areas.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Future of recovery for Sumas Prairie flooded farms' B.C. floods: Future of recovery for Sumas Prairie flooded farms
B.C. floods: Future of recovery for Sumas Prairie flooded farms – Nov 23, 2021

In good news for drivers in the Fraser Valley, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the stretch of Highway 1 that has been closed for more than a week will likely reopen Thursday, providing the next storm doesn’t cause more flooding in the area.

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CP Rail was able to resume operations Tuesday and CN Rail is hoping to resume operations on Thursday.

This will further get supply chains moving, Fleming said.

Meanwhile, the stretch of Highway 7, between Agassiz and Mission, remains open to essential traffic only and goods are beginning to move through that stretch.

The United States has also further relaxed permit requirements so truckers can use routes in northern Washington state to reconnect with B.C., Fleming said.

Read more: Abbotsford, B.C. strengthening infrastructure, bracing for next atmospheric river

Residents of flood-evacuated Merritt, B.C., were allowed to return to their community on Tuesday.

However, the return migration proved to be a trickle, with around 2,000 residents allowed to go home, and not a sudden rush.

“We’re excited to be home,” Merritt resident Tosha Illingworth told Global News, even though she wasn’t sure what she’d be returning to.

Merritt has a three-phase plan in allowing residents to return home, starting with those who still have electric, gas and internet services.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Lengthy timeline to recover and rebuild for Merritt residents' B.C. floods: Lengthy timeline to recover and rebuild for Merritt residents
B.C. floods: Lengthy timeline to recover and rebuild for Merritt residents – Nov 23, 2021

Read more: B.C. floods: Residents trickling back to Merritt as flooded city begins return-home plan

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Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said Wednesday that the province has been in touch with many First Nations communities affected by the flooding, which has only added to the trauma of the last year.

He said he has spoken to many chiefs in the past few days who have shown enormous resilience and great leadership in the past week.

More support for First Nations communities affected by the flooding will be available, Rankin added, saying, “we need to streamline our processes to help people access supports more easily.”

 

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