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B.C. extends state of emergency a third time due to lingering damage from floods, mudslides

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: The devastation and the road to recovery'
B.C. floods: The devastation and the road to recovery
At the end of this year, prolonged periods of heavy rain and back-to-back storms led to mudslides, mass flooding and a state of emergency in British Colombia. Global News crews travelled to the hardest-hit areas that saw the devastation first-hand, as well as the effect it had on those in its path – Dec 28, 2021

With communities still reeling and roads still in need of repair, the B.C. government has extended the provincial state of emergency issued in the aftermath of November’s catastrophic floods.

It will remain in effect until Jan. 11, the province said Monday, due to “the continued need for public safety measures” under the Emergency Program Act and ongoing repairs to critical infrastructure.

“While significant progress has been made in recovery and repair efforts, there is still more to do to reopen our highways and get people back into their homes,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a news release.

“My thanks go out to all British Columbians for their patience and compliance during these challenging times, and to the crews who have worked tirelessly to get these highways back open.”

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Between Nov. 14 and 15, record-breaking rainfall drenched the southern part of the province, swallowing roads, vehicles and homes, and forcing thousands to evacuate. Five people were killed in mudslides.

The state of emergency was first declared on Nov. 17 and extended on Nov. 29 and Dec. 13.

It gives the government sweeping powers over resources, travel and food chain protection.

Under the Emergency Program Act, the province has the ability to acquire or use any land or personal property considered necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of an emergency or disaster. It can also authorize or require any person to render assistance of a type that the person is qualified to provide, meaning the government can break contracts to secure necessary workers.

Click to play video: 'Abbotsford storage facility hit hard by November’s floods'
Abbotsford storage facility hit hard by November’s floods

While evacuation orders have been rescinded throughout the province, thousands of British Columbians have been unable to return to or re-inhabit their waterlogged homes.

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Countless acres of farmland have also been drenched, with farm infrastructure, crops and tens of thousands of livestock animals lost.

The province has been able to reopen many impacted roadways, but traffic on the Coquihalla Highway — a critical transportation corridor — remains restricted commercial vehicles and inter-city buses.

Read more: Flooding, fires and heat: A year of unprecedented weather extremes in B.C.

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On Monday, the province said those orders restricting the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt will remain in place.

Vehicles weighing more than 14,500 kilograms are also prohibited from travelling from the junction of Highway 99 and Lillooet River Road to the BC Hydro Seton Lake campsite access in Lillooet.

It’s not the first time the province has declared a provincial state of emergency. They were also issued for both the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating wildfires during the summer.

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