British Columbia’s minister of public safety was able to see firsthand Friday the destruction caused by torrential storms that forced rivers to overflow their banks and destroyed roads and bridges.

Mike Farnworth visited Princeton and said he saw “incredible devastation” in homes and infrastructure in the southern inner city, about 280 kilometers east of Vancouver.

“It’s heartbreaking. You talk to people and it’s emotional just looking at it,” he said in a telephone interview from a restaurant in the city. “But what you also hear is that people are very grateful and grateful for the way the community came together.”

Mayor Spencer Coyne showed Farnworth the damage to his community. Farnworth said there is a lot of work to be done in the rebuilding effort, including a levee, a gas pipeline and houses.

Farnworth said the government is doing everything it can to help affected communities recover.

The British Columbia government is still assessing the damage done to its roads and agricultural industry after a series of “atmospheric rivers” hit the southern part of the province.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said her federal counterpart will visit flood-affected areas next week to speak with farmers.

Popham said 97 percent of the laying hens and 98 percent of the dairy cows in the Sumas meadow in Abbotsford survived the floods, but he expects turkey prices to rise this Christmas due to additional transportation costs.

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“Unfortunately, it takes longer to get things where they are needed and that is costing the trucking industry more. It’s an unfortunate complication,” Popham said.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the government is in the planning stages to determine temporary measures to open the main arteries between the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and the Interior, including the Coquihalla Highway. Five highway bridges in southern British Columbia were razed.

The British Columbia minister visits the city damaged by the floods and promises support to repair the damage. #BCFlood #BCPoli

Many residents who were given little notice to leave Merritt will be allowed to return home on Sunday if their water samples return clean, while those whose homes were damaged the most can now enter during the day to assess the water. situation. Abbotsford residents of some 240 properties were told they could return to their homes on Friday.

Mayor Henry Braun announced that evacuation orders have been lifted for the northern section of Sumas Prairie.

The prairie, which is home to much of the region’s agricultural production, was devastated by floods that reached almost eight feet deep.

“I have a lot of friends there,” Braun said. “It’s good to see you return.”

The mayor said he has heard that it could take six months to a few years for affected farmers to return to normal operations, depending on the type of crop.

“We may not fully recover in a decade, people tell me,” he said.

Officials will monitor how the floods recede over the weekend to determine when other evacuation orders will be lifted, he said.

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Also Friday, the Fraser Valley Regional District issued an evacuation order for 52 properties on the Hatzic Prairie, warning that debris was causing rivers and swamps to overflow their banks.

– By Nick Wells in Vancouver, with files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 3, 2021.

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