B.C. mudslides, call to end ban on gay men donating blood: In The News for Nov. 16
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 16 What we are watching in Canada Rescue crews will spend Tuesday searching for people who may have been trapped in debris from mudslides on a British Columbia highway, after helicopters ferried out 275 people from a slide site on Highway 7 on Monday. The mudslides rolled over the highway during an "atmospheric river" that brought a deluge of rain and flooding to the southwest and central parts of the province.
© Oliver Walters/CBC A man looks across the flooded Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford, B.C. More rains arrived overnight across southern B.C., threatening to exacerbate the devastating impact of floods and mudslides.
Communities still reeling from major floods and fatal mudslides in southern B.C. are set to face another series of storms heading into the weekend, as key highways remain closed and thousands of people are still out of their homes.
Environment Canada issued a series of rainfall warnings for regions throughout southwest B.C. overnight on Thursday. Up to 80 millimetres of rain is set to fall near the mountains, and 50 millimetres near the coast.
Partial derailment, lines washed out as B.C. floods snarl rail network
Railroad tracks that carry goods in and out of the busiest port in the country have been shut down as a result of the record-setting floods in British Columbia, with at least one train partially derailing on a washed-out line. CN Rail and CP Rail both say their rail networks in B.C.'s Lower Mainland have been impacted by the dramatic flooding, although the extent of the damage is not yet known. A spokesperson for CN Rail confirmed to CBC News that its network has experienced a number of mudslides and washouts near Yale, B.C.
Though not as strong as the "once in a century" storm that devastated the province, strong southeast winds near the water are also predicted as part of the weather system.
Freezing levels will also rise above mountain tops. The drop in temperature could trigger snowmelt and exacerbate the flooding situation. With the ground already saturated from the earlier downpour, even minor storms can cause rivers and streams to rise faster and potentially flood, the agency says.
"We are still in uncharted territory when it comes to these storms," said B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth at a media conference on Wednesday, adding that there have been almost a dozen atmospheric rivers since mid-September.
"Having several destructive storms in a row is not anywhere near normal."
Mudslides, helicopter rescues and at least one death as torrential rains swamp southern B.C.
For some restaurant owners, the situation in Hope, B.C., over the past couple of days might have seemed like a bonanza. More than 1,000 motorists were stranded in the town after torrential rainfall and huge mudslides closed local highways. With motels and hotels full, many were literally living in their vehicles, growing thirsty and hungry and needing to answer nature’s call. But instead of profiting from the floods’ victims, Hope Pizza Place went out of its way to help. Firing up the restaurant’s one gas oven amid a power outage, owners Rupinder and Dewan Davesar baked pies and, with the aid of volunteers, delivered them in the rain to the occupants of marooned cars.
Once Thursday's storm passes through, another is set to arrive on the coast on Saturday.
The province and local officials are reminding people in flood zones to be ready to evacuate and to pack an emergency kit. © Oliver Walters/CBC A traffic control vehicle is seen in floodwaters in Abbotsford on Nov. 18. The region could see up to 50 mm of rain on Thursday.
As province readies for more storms, key highway to reopen
The Fraser Valley region of B.C., including the city of Abbotsford southeast of Vancouver, has been hit particularly hard by the floods.
One region that has been ravaged by floodwaters is the Sumas Prairie area east of the city, where a 'do not use' water advisory was issued on Wednesday afternoon.
The area under the advisory stretches from Angus Campbell Road in the west, to Highway One in the north, the boundary with Chilliwack in the east, and to the U.S. border and Old Yale Road in the south. Other parts of Abbotsford are not affected.
Flooding, mudslides prompt B.C. government to impose state of emergency
VANCOUVER — British Columbia declared a state of emergency Wednesday following unprecedented flooding that has displaced residents, severed access to multiple highways and killed thousands of livestock while many more animals are in danger of dying. Premier John Horgan said the declaration will help preserve basic access to services and supplies for communities across the province, which has experienced yet more weather-related havoc months after historic wildfires and a heat dome that claimed the lives of nearly 600 people.
Mayor Henry Braun said although recent dike repairs helped seal off the flow of water into the low-lying region, they need to continue to pump water out, with standing water still keeping evacuees from returning.
Many of those evacuees were farmers. The B.C. Dairy Association said upwards of 500 cows were lost to the floods, as well as "thousands" of chickens and 20,000 hogs.
However, the region is expected to be reconnected to the rest of the province again. A key highway connecting Abbotsford to Metro Vancouver and the Interior, Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley, is set to reopen on Thursday night.
The Ministry of Transportation said the estimated time of reopening is 9 p.m. PT Thursday night.
"We know people in this region need to travel around," said Rob Fleming, B.C.'s minister of transportation and infrastructure, at the media conference.
"This will provide significant relief." © Ben Nelms/CBC Students from the Credo Christian High School help a farmer clean their field of debris after damaging floodwaters receded in the community of Arnold, B.C. in the Fraser Valley on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.
Other damaged highways in the province, including Highway 5 and Highway 8, are expected to take far longer to repair due to significant washouts at multiple sections.
The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia for Friday, Nov. 19
The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia. (All times Eastern) --- 3:25 p.m. Canadian Pacific Rail say it expects to have service between Kamloops and Vancouver restored by the middle of next week. The company says it has repaired or cleared 20 separate sections of track in the corridor. A spokesperson for the company says it is working closely with local and provincial authorities to co-ordinate the delivery of materials, equipment, food and fuel. Both CP and Canadian National rail lines were impacted by mudslides and flooding in the Fraser Canyon. --- 3:20 p.m. Amanda Brittain, the director of communications for B.C.
Highway travel restrictions continue to be in place on many key stretches, and the province also promised to pre-emptively close highways during the current storm event if there is a risk to motorists.
Military and federal aid continue to arrive in the province
Hundreds of military personnel are helping with emergency management operations in the province.
More than 30 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as a reconnaissance team, was deployed to the flooded community of Princeton in B.C.'s Interior on Wednesday. They helped to build levees and clean streets of mud ahead of the series of storms hitting on Thursday.
The platoon could be reinforced with more troops and equipment if needs increase, according to Mayor Spencer Coyne. Troops also helped with sandbagging operations in Abbotsford on Wednesday. © Maggie MacPherson/CBC Soldiers fill sandbags to help protect Princeton's dikes from flooding again in Princeton, B.C. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.
Federal help also arrived to alleviate the province's supply chain constraints, with Ottawa giving $4.1 million in emergency financial assistance to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority on Wednesday.
The money is set to go towards creating additional container capacity, even as the province's supply situation improves with the resumption of rail links to the Interior.
Southern B.C. prepares for more storms as federal support pours into flood-ravaged province .
Communities throughout southern B.C. are preparing for an atmospheric river to strike on Saturday, even as federal plans to help the province recover from devastating floods and mudslides were announced. The heaviest rain is set to fall on Saturday night, according to Environment Canada, who issued a rainfall warning on Friday and warned of another storm front arriving on Tuesday. More than 100 millimetres of rain will hit near the mountains in southern B.C., with 80 millimetres of rain set to fall on the Fraser Valley, an area southeast of Metro Vancouver devastated by floods two weeks ago.