BC floods: Recovery efforts in the midst of the province’s state of emergency

BARRIE – Devastating floods, mudslides and strong winds in British Columbia have prompted officials to declare a provincial state of emergency.

Work continues around the clock to clean up and recover from the storm, but thousands are still displaced from their homes.

Here is a look at the latest developments from BC

PROVINCIAL EMERGENCY

A provincial state of emergency was declared in BC on Wednesday.

“The order will preserve basic access to services and supplies for communities throughout the province,” BC Premier John Horgan told a news conference.

Horgan said his government would impose travel restrictions to ensure essential goods and medical and emergency services are able to reach out to communities, but he urged residents not to stock up on groceries while recovery efforts continue.

“Do the right thing,” he said. “Listen to what your mother said to you when you were little: ‘Do to others as you want them to do to you’.”

Horgan said the federal government has agreed to help manage supply chains and restore clean drinking water in the province.

On Wednesday, Canada’s emergency minister tweeted that members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be deployed to help in BC

He said air support personnel will assist with evacuation efforts, support supply chain routes and protect residents from floods and landslides.

ABBOTSFORD PUMP STATION STILL STILL

In the town of Abbotsford, emergency evacuation orders remain for those in Sumas Prairie as Barrowtown Pump Station operates at maximum capacity.

Officials warned that if the pumping station fails, the effects could be “catastrophic.”

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, city mayor Henry Braun said water from floods in Washington state was flowing into the city, putting extra pressure on the pumping station.

According to Braun, a temporary dam built around the station is helping to buy time.

Braun said the water level on Wednesday had dropped two meters, but had to drop another meter to ease enough pressure on the pumps.

Elsewhere in the city, evacuation orders have been lifted.

Late Wednesday night, the city lifted evacuation warnings for Eagle Mountain Areas, Ten Oaks, Straiton Areas and Matsqui Village.

City officials are expected to give the latest updates at a news conference at 7:30 a.m. local time Thursday.

MERRITT EVACUATION ORDER CONTINUES

Meanwhile, an evacuation order issued for the town of Merritt on Monday remains in place.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the city’s mayor Linda Brown said she has “personally spoken” with Prime Minister Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“They both expressed their thoughts on grief, respect for the resilience of the Merrittonians and the commitment of the province and the federal government to stand with the people of Merritt,” the statement said.

Brown said the city has their support to meet the community’s “immediate and long-term needs.”

According to Brown, the city’s emergency operations team is now working to bring residents whose homes were not affected by the flood home, and will then work to enable “safe return of residents whose homes were flooded.”

“As soon as we can provide clean water and get toilets flushed, we’ll bring you home,” Brown said.

The crew area is also working on assessing roads and bridges and damage to the home throughout the city.

They are also working on cleaning up rubbish.

Brown also said there is a “large contingent of RCMP in the community” that works primarily on rescue operations and against securing and protecting property.

Also on Wednesday, the Houston Street Bridge was reopened after inspection by an engineer. Although officials said the Main Street Bridge remains closed to traffic.

ONE DEATH, MORE EXPECTED

Officials confirmed Tuesday that a woman has died as a result of the devastating mudslides on Highway 99, south of Lillooet.

At a news conference Wednesday, Horgan said more fatalities are expected.

To date, at least three people have been reported missing in the area.

ROAD PUNCHES CONTINUE

In a tweet late Wednesday, the BC government said many roads remain closed or restricted to single-lane traffic.

“Please do not travel unless it is important,” reads the post.

Officials said crews are working to reopen roads from the lower mainland to the interior and north to “keep people and supply chains moving.”

A list of roadblocks can be found here.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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