The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia for Friday, Nov. 19

·8 min read
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)

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8:00 p.m.

Officials in Merritt are working with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources on what the city called the "new course" of the Coldwater River.

The city inundated by floodwaters says the river is now much closer to Merritt's wastewater treatment infrastructure, causing problems with its operation.

An updated posted on Merritt's Facebook page on Friday says the city and the ministry are starting to investigate whether rerouting the river to its original course would be possible, though no plans exist yet.

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7:05 p.m.

B.C.'s agriculture minister says federal relief is coming for farmers affected by the Sumas Prairie flooding.

Lana Popham says affected farmers will be eligible for B.C. disaster relief, and she has been assured by her federal counterpart that there would also be support from that jurisdiction.

She says the province has secured livestock feed for the recent future, and will be dropping that and water by helicopter as needed.

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6:50 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says officials are banking on B.C. residents following orders when it comes to gasoline restrictions.

He says police will not be enforcing the 30-litres per visit rule, but will instead be relying on residents to "do the right thing."

Farnworth says if people follow the restrictions, then B.C.'s gas supply will hold for the next 10 to 11 days.

He says gas stations are required to ensure their supplies last until Dec. 1 in southwestern B.C., the Sea-to-Sky region, Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

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6:45 p.m.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says there are 959 farms under evacuation orders on the Sumas Prairie area that was swamped with water after this week's atmospheric river.

She says 164 farms are on evacuation alert.

Popham says 20,500 hectares of farmland has been affected by flooding, 15,000 of which are within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

She says 35 veterinarians are on standby to care for affected animals.

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6:39 p.m.

The British Columbia government is rationing gasoline on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Island, southwestern B.C. and the Sunshine Coast after a severe storm cut off supply lines.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the limit of 30 litres per visit to a gas station is an important step to maintain the supply of fuel.

The government has also prohibited non-essential travel on sections of highways 99, 3 and 7.

This order takes effect today.

Numerous routes, including Highway 1 and the Coquihalla, were cut by washouts and mudslides when record-setting rain washed over B.C.'s south coast and Interior over a 48-hour period.

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6:37 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the damage from flooding and mudslides will “be with us for some time.”

He says roads need to be kept clear to address supply chain disruptions.

Farnworth says there is a “reduced, but steady” supply of gasoline due to road washouts and damage to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

He says the province will be trucking and barging in gas from Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California.

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5:57 p.m.

Abbotsford's mayor says 680 people are still out of their homes in the Sumas Prairie area after being evacuated this week.

Henry Braun says roughly 340 people have used services provided by the evacuation centre at Abbotsford's Tradex building.

He says the situation remains "critical" in the city.

The farming community of Sumas Prairie is home to about 3,000 people and thousands of livestock.

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5:48 p.m.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says a plan to build a levee, and destroy some homes in the process, is no longer being considered.

Instead, Braun says crews are working to build a temporary replacement dike to protect the Sumas Prairie from more flood damage.

He says structural and geotechnical engineers have assessed for damage 10 bridges, 32 kilometres of roads and 70 culverts in the city.

The mayor says city workers are trying to get people back in to their homes as quickly, and safely, as possible.

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4:28 p.m.

The Canadian National Railway says it expects repair work on lines damaged by widespread flooding and landslides in British Columbia will continue at least into next week.

CN says trains travelling through southern B.C., arriving in Vancouver from the Kamloops area and leaving Vancouver heading north and east are still affected.

It says in a statement that traffic to and from Prince Rupert is not directly affected and CN is working with customers and the port in that city to use available capacity.

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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.

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3:20 p.m.

Amanda Brittain, the director of communications for B.C. Egg, said 80 per cent of the province’s egg farms are in the Fraser Valley, with an estimated 290,000 hens in the flooded area that is under evacuation.

She says their group is focusing on getting feed and potable water to farms in that region.

Brittain says the group assumes there have been deaths of hens, but it has not been able to determine an exact number.

She says her organization is keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, with rain expected next week.

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2:30 p.m.

Trained inspectors are heading to Merritt, B.C., to start rapid assessments of properties affected by floods in the Interior community.

The city says in a statement that each property will be tagged green, yellow or red.

It says it has establishing a process for people with green-tagged homes to return to collect possessions and begin remediation efforts.

The local emergency operations base is also working to launch a call centre to better assist residents with questions.

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1:15 p.m.

The Canadian Bankers Association says seven of its members, including BMO, TD, Scotiabank and HSBC Bank Canada are donating a combined $235,000 to flood disaster relief in British Columbia.

A statement from the association says Canadian Western Bank, National Bank and Tangerine Bank also joined in that donation, with the money earmarked for ongoing relief efforts and long-term recovery in affected areas of the province.

BMO, CIBC and RBC have also made separate donations totalling $150,000 to groups including the BC SPCA, United Way, B.C. Agriculture Council and Food Banks B.C.

The association says between Nov. 22 and Dec. 10 several member banks are accepting cash donations from the public at their branches to support the BC Red Cross Flood and Extreme Weather Appeal,

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9:55 a.m.

The Canadian Red Cross, Salvation Army, SPCA and United Way are among at least 10 groups raising funds or offering aid to flood victims in British Columbia.

United Way B.C. announced its drive Thursday, backed by separate $50,000 contributions from Prospera Credit Union and the Steelworker Humanity Fund.

Property and casualty insurance company Aviva Canada has donated $50,000 to the British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal managed by the Red Cross, while the BC SPCA is seeking donations to pay for pet supplies and emergency boarding in Kamloops, Chilliwack and Cowichan for animals with nowhere to go after their owners were evacuated.

The B.C. government has also launched its Disaster Financial Assistance program for eligible residents or businesses across southern or central B-C hit by floods or landslides between Nov. 14 and 16, with applications due by mid-February.

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9:05 a.m.

British Columbia's public safety minister is expected to outline the specifics of the latest provincial state of emergency later today.

Mike Farnworth has already hinted at restrictions on all but essential travel through flood-ravaged areas, including the Fraser Valley and the region around Merritt.

The province announced emergency measures on Wednesday in response to catastrophic flooding in many parts of southern B.C. after record amounts of rain fell between Saturday and Monday.

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8:30 a.m.

About 120 Canadian Armed Forces members have arrived in Abbotsford as that Fraser Valley city begins a massive rebuild of damaged dikes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure following flooding earlier this week.

One of the most pressing jobs facing the soldiers is construction of more than two kilometres of levee or temporary dike to stop river water from gushing into the Sumas Prairie lowlands, where many dairy and poultry farms have already been inundated.

In addition to the teams arriving through the day, the military says more than 200 troops are on standby in Edmonton awaiting orders to deploy to B.C.

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8:20 a.m.

Officials in Merritt say levels of the Coldwater River are falling after the waterway burst its banks on Monday and overwhelmed the city's wastewater treatment plant, forcing evacuation of the entire community.

But as the waters recede, Merritt's corporate services director says it's clear the river has carved a new channel down the middle of what used to be Pine Street on the city's northwest side.

Greg Lowis says a new island has also been formed between the river's new course and the former riverbed.

Lowis says he understands it takes "vast amounts of energy and effort" to reroute a waterway from its chosen path, and he's not sure what the city will do.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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