Senior British Columbia government officials warned residents Saturday to prepare for another round of weekend storms, even as the death toll from flooding from the latest round of extreme weather conditions continued to rise.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said another “atmospheric river” will hit the northern coast of British Columbia, and rain is expected to move south on Sunday and Monday.

His warnings came hours after police announced the recovery of three more bodies in flood-ravaged southern British Columbia, bringing the overall count to four since torrential rains last weekend triggered a series of landslides in much of the province.

“What Environment Canada has warned me about is that they are seeing 20 to 40 millimeters of rain,” Farnworth said of the latest weather systems while speaking at a news conference. “Normally that would not be a problem in terms of concern, but obviously given the current saturation that we have seen on the ground, we are following it very closely.”

Environment Canada has issued a special meteorological statement for the North Coast, warning that flooding and landslides could occur due to pending rainfall.

Farnworth said the national weather agency is working on a new system to classify atmospheric rivers, the weather phenomenon that triggered floods that washed away roads, decimated agricultural operations and disrupted supply chains across much of the province.

“This will help us all be better prepared for everything from floods and localized winds to larger storms,” ​​Farnworth said. “This new approach is based on a system that the United States is already using.”

Meanwhile, the RCMP offered few details about the increase in the death toll.

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The Mounties issued a statement Saturday saying they recovered the bodies of three men from a particularly affected area in the southern part of the province, although they noted that the discoveries took place earlier in the week.

Police said the men’s bodies were located in an area east of Agassiz along Highway 7 and a section of Highway 99, known as Duffy Lake Road.

The death toll rises to four as British Columbia officials warn of the next ‘atmospheric river’. #Floods #BC #Atmospheric river #BCPoli

The discovery comes days after a woman’s body was recovered near the same area on Monday.

The search for a fifth person missing after the landslides has been suspended, although that person is not currently counted among the dead.

“All current search efforts have been exhausted and how and when best to proceed is being discussed,” said Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in a statement.

The BC Coroners Service issued a statement saying it would investigate the deaths and make recommendations, where possible, to prevent similar situations in the future.

Meanwhile, a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster arrived at Abbotsford Airport on Saturday afternoon, delivering three CH-146 Griffon helicopters from the 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron to assist with flood rescue efforts.

The rising death toll comes as the region continues to work to stop the massive damage caused by the floods and subsequent landslides.

Gasoline restrictions have been put in place, limiting non-essential worker residents to 30 liters of fuel per visit to the gas station.

Farnworth encouraged residents to stay home, or carpool or use public transportation if they really need to travel.

He stressed that the restrictions would only be in effect for 10 days and asked residents not to stockpile fuel.

“People understand that we are in a very challenging situation,” he said. “Our supply routes have been damaged, thousands of people have been displaced, huge impacts on our agricultural sector. We have to maintain our supply routes, we have to be able to get products where they are needed.”

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The federal government announced early Saturday that it was partnering with provincial officials to form a task force to address supply chain concerns.

BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the province was able to throw four tons of feed onto a pig farm, feeding four to five thousand animals.

He said the province has enough feed to support cattle for five to six days.

Meanwhile, in Abbotsford, BC, Mayor Henry Braun said there has been some “good news” as the gates at the Barrowtown Pump Station were able to partially open and allow water from the Sumas River to flow into the Fraser River.

The station helps keep Sumas prairie flood-free under normal conditions.

While the pumps can suck up 1.89 million gallons of water, Braun said the gates allow seven times that amount to flow back to the Fraser when it is fully operational.

He said that even the partial reopening has made a difference.

“There is already a dramatic change in certain parts of the prairie,” he said, adding that he could now see grass in some previously flooded areas.

He added that he hopes the floodgates can be fully opened before the next storm.

“It’s a concern with the weakened levees,” Braun said.

Highway 99 has been reopened for essential travel, with checkpoints planned to ensure travel restrictions are followed.

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 20, 2021.

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