The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia

Burnt truck and recreational vehicles are seen during a fire at a business surrounded by floodwaters in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The latest news on mudslides and flooding in British Columbia. (All times Eastern)

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7:55 p.m.

Mounties say the number of people believed to be missing after a mudslide on Highway 99 near Lillooet, B.C., has increased to four.

A woman's body was discovered earlier this week after a landslide caused by record rainfall over a 48-hour period.

RCMP spokeswoman Dawn Roberts says they expect the death toll will rise once the search starts in specific areas of the slide site.

She says if anyone else is worried about a missing loved one they should reach out to RCMP.

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7:45 p.m.

British Columbia's Agriculture Minister says they are prioritizing getting food and water to farms that have been cut off by transportation routes.

Lana Popham says they have secured helicopters through the BC Wildfire Service to drop containers at farms and then fill them with water.

She says they have diverted feed found at the Port of Vancouver that was destined for China and they've had offers for help from Washington state and provinces across Canada.

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6 p.m.

Defence Minister Anita Anand says 120 Canadian Forces soldiers will arrive in Abbotsford, B.C., tonight from Edmonton to assist in flood relief efforts.

She says thousands of Canadian Forces members are currently on standby and are ready to be deployed to B.C. if required.

Anand says about 160 military personnel are also preparing to leave Edmonton for B.C. with a convoy of military vehicles and equipment.

She says the military will assist in evacuation efforts, support activities and monitor infrastructure and properties.

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5 p.m.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says he has met virtually with industry officials in an attempt to get British Columbia's crippled supply chains up and running as quickly as possible.

He says talks are also underway with Canadian and U.S. border officials to reach an interim agreement to allow truckers to detour through border crossings to reach their destinations.

Alghabra says the recent slides and floods have closed major transportation routes in the province and the priority is restoring the connections.

He says he met Thursday with officials from CN and CP railways, the Port of Vancouver and the trucking industry.

3:30 p.m.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove says the community that borders a heavily flooded farming area in Abbotsford has had its own issues with washouts, and staff told him during a tour today that there had been about 14 slides in the city.

Popove says culverts will need to be installed to allow water to be drained, but rain was "coming down in buckets" today following two days of relief after record-breaking rainfall.

He says water and transportation issues have caused havoc in the community and most gas stations had run out of gas.

Popove says the reopening of one-way traffic on Highway 7 for commercial vehicles is allowing for food deliveries but it will take weeks to drain much of the water that has accumulated in the Fraser Valley.

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3 p.m.

Transport trucks that have been stranded in Hope by floods and washouts since Sunday are finally on the move.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation says one lane of Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz has reopened to commercial vehicles only, allowing them to begin heading west.

The route will be closed again so repairs can resume once the trucks have passed.

A similar opening Wednesday afternoon allowed travellers in private cars and small trucks to leave Hope where they have been sheltering after record-breaking rainfall caused severe damage to many roads across southern B.C.

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12:50 p.m.

The mayor of Abbotsford says he'll be talking with Washington state governor Jay Inslee later today as the two discuss severe flooding on the Canadian side of the border at least partially caused by swollen rivers in the United States.

Speaking at a news conference this morning, Mayor Henry Braun says Inslee's office reached out Wednesday night as the Nooksak River in Washington state continues to send torrents of water "backward" into the already overwhelmed Sumas River, which has overflowed across the low-lying Sumas Prairie.

Braun says a pump station in Abbotsford was designed to keep water out of the Sumas Prairie -- which is actually a former lake bed -- but the pump station was never designed to handle water from flooding in the U.S.

With another powerful rainstorm on the way Braun says Nooksak River levels could rise again, further threatening Abbotsford's dairy and poultry farms already covered by up to two metres of water.

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11:15 a.m.

The mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., says he's spoken to the prime minister and provincial government officials to prepare them for a flood-damage bill of up to $1 billion.

Henry Braun says the cost alone for the dikes that failed was assessed a few years ago at $400 million, and there are many bridges, overpasses, roads and culverts to assess.

Of the 20,000 cattle that were in the flooded area, Braun says he's heard that about 2,000 have died.

There are showers in the area today, but the mayor says it's the forecast for 100 mm of rain next week that worries him about the need to accelerate dike repairs.

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10:20 a.m.

All eyes are on the weather over Abbotsford with clouds and rain returning to the south coast after two days of sunshine.

Environment Canada is calling for showers today and tonight over the central Fraser Valley where flooding up to two metres deep has devastated many dairy and poultry operations.

The high water has also threatened to overwhelm a pumping station leaving the Sumas Prairie area vulnerable to even more severe flooding, but the station remains in operation today and water levels in the region have receded slightly.

The weather office is calling for rainfall of no more than a few millimetres before sunny periods are forecast to resume Friday.

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10:15 a.m.

Efforts are underway to help stranded travellers get to their destinations in flooded areas of southern B.C.

A single lane of Highway 7 west of Hope reopened briefly Wednesday night for cars and small trucks, allowing those stranded in Hope for days to get to Vancouver.

A special Via Rail train also carried about 200 stranded travellers from Hope to Vancouver overnight.

And BC Ferries is offering a special sailing from Sidney to Duke Point in Nanaimo at 12:30 p.m. today, with a return sailing at 4 p.m., skirting flooding related bottlenecks on the highway linking those two cities.

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8 a.m.

The first group of Canadian Armed Forces personnel has arrived in British Columbia to assist with flooding and landslide rescues and recovery.

A statement from the Canadian Joint Operations Command Centre says nine members from Edmonton's Third Canadian Division Immediate Response Unit are now in the province to plan and co-ordinate ongoing relief efforts.

The statement says the exact size of the expected contingent isn't yet available but it says armed forces members have been "identified and placed on high readiness to respond."

A Hercules aircraft arrived in Edmonton last night and is staging for departure to B.C., joining a Griffon helicopter that will also come from Edmonton and a Cyclone helicopter from CFB Esquimalt on Vancouver Island.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2021.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2021
The Canadian Press

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