Feds and BC pledge money to help victims of global warming

The federal and British Columbia governments have created a joint committee of cabinet ministers to deal with the devastation caused by the floods, while promising to match donations given to the Canadian Red Cross.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister John Horgan made the announcements Friday night after meeting on the flood situation.

Horgan said BC did not make a specific request for federal funding for reconstruction because it is premature, but Trudeau said Ottawa will help the province recover and prepare for the future effects of climate change.

“We will be here for whatever it takes,” Trudeau told a news conference at the legislature in Victoria.

“We need to rebuild. We need to rebuild stronger infrastructure that’s capable of handling 100-year storms every few years because that seems to be the pattern we’re in. It’s going to be expensive, but it would be a lot more complicated.” expensive to do less or not do enough. “

Horgan said the province has been recovering this year from successive events caused by climate change: first drought, then a heat dome that claimed nearly 600 lives, followed by wildfires and now floods.

“It has been a very, very difficult year for British Colombians,” he said. “We are facing the worst of climate change, not in the future but right now. Our farmers have been flooded. Our roads have been washed away and our communities are under water, and more rain is coming.”

Trudeau said he saw some of the devastation during an overpass in the Abbotsford area floodplain, but also witnessed the extraordinary efforts of people on the ground to help others affected by the disaster.

“Flying over, I saw the extension of the pools of water, the challenges of so many impacted communities,” he said.

The federal government has dispatched around 500 soldiers to help with recovery from the floods and has provided funding to First Nations and the Port of Vancouver to help rebuild vital supply chains. Horgan said the port is an important gateway for imports and exports across the country.

“We need to rebuild. We need to rebuild stronger infrastructure that can handle 100-year storms every few years because that seems to be the pattern we are in,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. #cdnpoli

Earlier Friday, British Columbia’s Transportation Minister said crews are working “non-stop” to repair roughly 200 road sites that were damaged or destroyed by landslides in the interior of the province and the southern coast, but that weather Severe looming could make existing floods worse or cause more of that.

Rob Fleming said people should prepare for two more storms that are expected to hit the province on Saturday and Tuesday after a major atmospheric river devastated some communities where essential supplies are being shipped by air.

“There is an increased risk of landslides accompanying this weather forecast and there may be power outages due to the winds that we also expect,” Fleming said Friday, adding that anyone who does not need to travel should stay home. .

The risk of further flooding from the flooding of the Nooksack River in Washington is possible on Sunday, he said. In previous storms, the river flooded the Sumas Prairie area of ​​Abbotsford, where thousands of cattle have died and farms have been flooded with water.

“The information we have received from Whatcom County has indicated that the levee system along the Nooksack has damage from the past week. They are actively working on repairs to that. Obviously, we are watching it very closely.”

The cumulative precipitation expected between Saturday and Wednesday could be greater than the amount that fell during the two-and-a-half-day deluge that triggered the initial flood, although it would fall over a longer period of time, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said. .

“This is different from the first time because now you have water in the lake, the ditches and drainage channels are full and the soil is super saturated,” Braun told a news conference. “I have not yet spoken to anyone who can determine what will happen. We are all going to see this together.”

Repairs are complete to the main part of a levee that burst, causing water to enter the Sumas prairie area, he said. The city obtained additional funding from the province to temporarily increase the height along a seven-kilometer stretch of levee and the work was expected to be completed on Friday or Saturday, it said.

Some roads will be closed on Saturday before inclement weather according to forecasts from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the provincial government said.

Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with the agency, said a so-called red-level alert was issued due to heavy rains expected to begin over the weekend and intensify Tuesday.

He said the thaw could increase flooding as part of a “waterfall hazard” after a major atmospheric river dumped record amounts of rain that has already caused major landslides in parts of British Columbia.

“These are extraordinary times,” Castellan said.

British Columbia Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she was pleased that Trudeau toured the flooded Abbotsford area on Friday to witness the destruction that has affected farmers’ livelihoods.

“I believe that his visit will give the farmers the confidence that the federal government understands the needs that we will have and the request that we will present,” he added.

Trudeau and Braun met with members of the rescue operations on Friday afternoon at Abbotsford City Hall, where the prime minister was briefed on the city’s flood-fighting efforts. He also visited members of the Canadian Armed Forces in Clayburn Village who were helping out with sandbags.

Horgan said that for the first time in the province’s history, the province’s three main highways “have fractured at the same time.”

Fleming said Highway 3 has been designated for commercial trucks and anyone still returning to their primary residence in the interior.

“It has played a vital role in moving goods and getting our supply chain working again,” he said.

The province announced that it will close Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, and Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, on Saturday afternoon due to approaching weather. Highway 1 in Fraser Canyon will also be closed on Saturday.

The government said the exact time and duration of the closures will depend on the weather, adding that roads in those areas are vulnerable after recent storms and are at additional risk because heavy rains are forecast. The closures of the three roads will be re-evaluated Sunday morning.

In addition to those closures, Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope will also be closed Saturday afternoon as BC Hydro conducts reservoir discharges to protect the Jones Lake reservoir.

– With files from Camille Bains and Brenna Owen in Vancouver, and Nick Wells in Abbotsford, BC

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 26, 2021.


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