A state of emergency has been declared in BC after it was hit by devastating rains and flooding this week.
“We need to remain calm,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety.
Farnworth said the state of emergency will limit travel but provide security in the supply chain.
In addition to the destruction of infrastructure, thousands of animals have died according to BC’s minister of agriculture.
“Some of them are in their barns and some of them are flooded and you can see the animals that are deceased,” said Minister Lana Popham.
Although not recommended by officials, people have been successfully using boats and jet skis in an attempt to save some of the animals.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he has already spoken to his BC counterpart, John Horgan, and will call him again later Wednesday to see if Alberta can offer any assistance, like heavy machinery.
He said Albertans will be “affected in a direct way.”
He noted all road transportation out of Vancouver has been cut off. Highways have been torn apart, roads are still flooded and rail lines have been washed away.
Kenney said truckers bringing in goods to Alberta will have to travel through the US to get there. He added he has asked the federal government to relax border COVID-19 measures to allow truckers quick access.
Meanwhile, residents of the Sumas Prairie area in Abbotsford have been told to get out because there could be “catastrophic” flooding in the area, as the Barrowtown Pump Station was at risk of “imminent failure.”
Barrowtown is a four-pump station that keeps the Fraser River out of the Sumas Lake Canal and throughout the night, volunteers, staff, and contractors successfully built a dam around the station in order to “buy time.”
The station has been overwhelmed by a surge of water from the Nooksack River, and the Fraser River needs to drop one more metre before the pump can stabilize.
Additional water flow down the Sumas Mountain has also contributed to increased flooding.
“You need to leave immediately,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun during an emergency news conference that was held 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.
“If you can’t leave, please call 911 for support.”
Braun urged farmers to not stay behind to protect their livestock and livelihood.
“They want to stay behind and protect what they have spent their whole life building. I get that — but nothing is worth your life,” said Braun.
“Tomorrow morning may be too late.”
On Wednesday morning, it was confirmed rescue crews went to 40 properties and dozens of people were safely evacuated. Many more were able to self-evacuate.
BC’s public safety minister, Mike Farnworth, said he has been in continual contact with Braun and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke with the mayor as well, along with the the mayors of hard-hit Chilliwack, Hope, and Merritt.
A number of road closures remain in place across the province, including sections of Hwy’s 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.
The flooding is a result of an “atmospheric river,” a flowing column of condensed water vapour in the atmosphere. When atmospheric rivers move inland and sweep over mountains, the vapour rises and cools leading to intense precipitation. Larger atmospheric rivers can initiate severe and potentially catastrophic disruptions, such as what’s been observed in southern BC.
To make matters worse, a possibly toxic structure fire ignited for several hours in Abbotsford. The Abbotsford Police Department said the fire was at a vehicle holding lot, blowing large plumes of smoke northwest. It has now been extinguished.
Chilliwack, BC is almost entirely inaccessible by road.
One woman has died in a mudslide on Hwy. 1 between Lillooet and Pemberton and two people are missing.
…This story will be updated throughout the day.
Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.