Mammoth cleanup begins in BC as the floodwaters recede

THE LATEST:

  • BC officials said more deaths could be confirmed in the coming days from the floods. One person has been confirmed dead and at least two people are missing. Thousands of animals have been lost.
  • The mayor of Abbotsford, BC said catastrophic floods in the Sumas Prairie region were averted on Wednesday after more than 300 volunteers built sandbanks around a pumping station.
  • A provincial state of emergency was declared by Prime Minister John Horgan on Wednesday, set to last 14 days and was intended to give the government greater flexibility to help keep goods moving.
  • Some freeways, including Highway 7 from Hope, BC to Vancouver, have reopened. The city of Hope hosted more than 1,000 evacuees.
  • Nearly 20,000 people are still out of their homes across the province.
  • Visit the River Forecast Center for a list of updated flood warnings.

British Columbia has embarked on the enormous task of assessing damage to its transport network, infrastructure and thousands of properties along the southern part of the province in the wake of devastating floods. The province also expects the death toll to rise.

Thousands of people remain out of their homes, and thousands of livestock and livestock were also threatened as the water washed away homes, leaving farms under meter water when the province declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

The flood was caused by record rainfall last weekend.

The state of emergency lasts two weeks and can be extended. It gives the government greater control over supply chains as access to Metro Vancouver remains restricted by damaged highways.

A woman has been confirmed killed in a mudslide on Highway 99, but BC Premier John Horgan said he expects officials will confirm more deaths in the coming days.

SE | Abbotsford residents gather to protect vital pumping station:

Scramble to protect Abbotsford, BC, pumping station, rescue animals

Abbotsford, BC, has one of the most pressing situations in the province, with concerns that a vital pumping station could become flooded with water and create even more catastrophic floods. The agricultural sector is concerned about the amount of livestock that will be lost to the floods. 3:21

Thousands of animals have died in the floods, and the government says it will work to get veterinarians into farms to treat animals. Some of the animals that escaped the floods are expected to be killed.

“This is a very difficult time for our producers,” BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham told a news conference, almost in tears, as she described the widespread flooding as an “agricultural disaster.”

Popham said hundreds of farms have been affected by floods across the province, many in the Fraser Valley, about an hour’s drive east of Vancouver.

The region has been one of the hardest hit by floods, with evacuation orders still in force for the town of Abbotsford.

A man uses a jet ski to help a cow swim across a flooded field after rainstorms caused floods and landslides in Abbotsford, BC. Thousands of animals are said to have died in the floods. (Jesse Winter / Reuters)

The water level drops in the Fraser Valley

Abbotsford, known for its rich farmland, is home to about half of all dairy farms in British Columbia. Dozens of dairy and poultry farms have been flooded with water in the low-lying, rural area of ​​Sumas Prairie, the hardest-hit area east of the city center.

The region escaped a more catastrophic flood Tuesday night after volunteers helped build sandbanks around a pumping station, according to Mayor Henry Braun.

SE | Did the drainage of a lake 100 years ago contribute to floods?

The 100-year-old decision that contributed to the floods in Abbotsford, BC

More than 100 years ago, a lake outside what is now Abbotsford, BC, the area was drained to create lucrative farmland. Many say the decision is a major contributor to the devastating floods. 2:29

Residents in some areas of Abbotsford and the nearby town of Chilliwack were threatened when officials warned that the Barrowtown pumping station was in imminent danger of failing. The station is the only one that prevents excess water from the overflowing Fraser and Nooksack rivers from entering the flooded area.

On Wednesday, Braun said the water level was about to fall and that the city might soon be able to open locks, easing some of the pressure on the pumping station.

Chilliwack downgraded an evacuation order for the community of Yarrow and Majuba Hill in Chilliwack to an evacuation alarm Wednesday night due to the improved situation.

An aerial photo of where the Trans-Canada Highway used to run through the Sumas apartments in Abbotsford. (Gian Paolo Mendoza / CBC)

Some highways reopen

However, provincial officials have urged residents to avoid traveling unless necessary, even though some highways opened around the province.

Highway 7, a key link between the lower mainland and the communities of Hope and Agassiz to the east, was opened Wednesday to allow westbound traffic so people trapped in Hope could return to Metro Vancouver. A train carrying 200 people stranded in Hope when the highways closed also arrived in Vancouver late Wednesday night.

Most of the major highways, including the East-West Trans Canada Highway and Coquihalla (Highway 5), remain damaged by significant leaching.

“Our focus is on clearing, repairing and reopening roads to connect the inner and northern areas with the lower mainland and Vancouver Island to get our supply chains up and running,” Transport and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement.

On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said hundreds of Canadian armed forces were on their way to the province to help with emergency operations.

SE | How future flood damage can be mitigated:

How to prepare for and prevent future devastating floods

Adrienne Arsenault talks with environmental risk assessment expert Jason Thistlethwaite about how to better prepare for floods and how to mitigate damage in the future. 3:00

READ MORE:

  • Provincial officials are urging British Colombians not to panic shopping or hoarding for scenes with empty grocery shelves in the Hope, Chilliwack and Okanagan regions.
  • The city of Abbotsford urges people not to swim or paddle in floods. Risks include toxicity and electric shock.
  • A look at the numbers around the floods shows an unprecedented situation in more ways than one, with rainfall records shattered across the province.
  • The Fraser Health Authority coordinates flights for dialysis patients who have been cut off from hospitals.

Anyone on evacuation orders should leave the area immediately.

Visit the Emergency Management BC website to find an evacuation center near you.

Evacuated people are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they have access to services at an evacuation center.

Road conditions can be checked on DriveBC.

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