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Flood-Ravaged British Columbia Declares State of Emergency

JESSE WINTER | REUTERS
  • The Canadian province of British Columbia on the Pacific coast declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following massive floods and landslides caused by record-breaking rainfall in the last several days.
  • Authorities have confirmed one death from a mudslide on Monday and anticipate the death toll to rise.
  • The government of Canada has deployed its air force to the area to aid evacuations and support disrupted supply chains.

The Canadian province of British Columbia on the Pacific coast declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following massive floods and landslides caused by record-breaking rainfall in the last several days.

Authorities have confirmed one death from a mudslide on Monday and anticipate the death toll to rise. Officials also said it could take weeks for the province to recover from the storm's torrential rain, which hit southern B.C. between Saturday and Monday. Thousands of people are stranded and seeking shelter.

The government of Canada has deployed its air force to the area to aid evacuations and support disrupted supply chains. The flood conditions have cut off transportation routes between the lower mainland of B.C. and the province interior and cut all rail access to Canada's largest port in Vancouver.

"We're sending help your way," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. "We've approved the province's request for assistance, and we'll have more @CanadianForces members on the ground as soon as possible — to keep you safe, support supply chain routes, and provide other necessary assistance."

The flooding calamity come less than six months after an extreme heat event scorched Canada's westernmost province of B.C. over the summer, breaking temperature records and causing hundreds of heat-related deaths. Climate change has contributed to more frequent and intense weather events like wildfires, drought and floods.

Cows are seen stranded due to widespread flooding in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier
JENNIFER GAUTHIER | REUTERS
Cows are seen stranded due to widespread flooding in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

British Columbia Premier John Horgan described the disaster as a once-in-500-year event during a news conference on Wednesday.

"We will bring in travel restrictions and ensure that transportation of essential goods and medical and emergency services are able to reach the communities that need them," Horgan said.

"These are very challenging times," Horgan added. "I've been at this dais over the past two years now talking about challenging times we have faced, unprecedented challenges with public health, wildfires, heat domes and now debilitating floods that we have never seen before."

"For those who understand and recognize that these events are increasing in regularity because of the effects of human-caused climate change, there is hope," he continued, pointing to the province's plans to reduce carbon emissions sharply by 2030. "We need to act now to make the changes in our community and in our economy that will protect us from these kinds of events in the future."

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said during the briefing that thousands of animals have died and hundreds of farms are still impacted by flooding. Popham vowed financial and veterinarian aid for farmers whose livestock have been harmed.

Flooded houses and farms are seen from the top of Sumas Mountain after rainstorms caused flooding and landslides in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada November 17, 2021.REUTERS/Jesse Winter
JESSE WINTER | REUTERS
Flooded houses and farms are seen from the top of Sumas Mountain after rainstorms caused flooding and landslides in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada November 17, 2021.REUTERS/Jesse Winter
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