British Columbia deals with flooding as first troops arrive

By Via AP news wire
THE CANADIAN PRESS

A team of Canadian soldiers was in British Columbia on Thursday to assess the needs of local authorities who are dealing with floods and mudslides that forced evacuations, blocked major highways, caused the death of at least one person and killed thousands of farm animals.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan has declared a state of emergency after record rainfall drenched much of the province’s south for more than 48 hours. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said several hundred Canadian troops will help deal with the devastation.

One person is confirmed dead in a landslide that swept vehicles off a road near Pemberton and the search continues for more victims.

The Canadian Joint Operations Command said nine soldiers with the Edmonton-based 3 Canadian Division Immediate Response Unit arrived in the province late Wednesday to investigate the scene before planning and coordinating relief efforts.

All major routes between the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where Canada’s third largest city of Vancouver is, and the interior of the province have been cut by washouts, flooding or landslides.

With dairy farms underwater around the city of Abbotsford and transportation routes closed, the province could face a shortage of milk products.

“There will be a short-term interruption, but everybody that’s involved in the industry is trying to get everything back to normal as quickly as possible to get this whole supply chain thing back to some semblance of normality,” Holger Schwichtenberg, chair of the British Colombia Dairy Association, said Thursday.

On his farm near Agassiz, Schwichtenberg is tending to 50 head of cattle brought from flooded areas around Abbotsford.

Schwichtenberg said 59 dairy farms scrambled to save their cows. Some were able to load their animals on trucks. A YouTube video shows one person on a jet ski leading a cow through water up to the animal’s back.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he had heard that about 2,000 cows had died in the flooded area, or 0% of the total herds.

Schwichtenberg said closed roads are preventing trucks from collecting milk from farms.

“If you’re milking but the tracks can’t get to your farm, then you have to dispose of the milk because it’s a perishable product,” he said.

Flooding is also delaying deliveries of Pfizer Canada products, including the company’s coronavirus vaccine.

“Weather conditions have resulted in an unfortunate delivery delay of our medicines to BC,” Pfizer said on Twitter. “We are working to ensure the supply chain has sufficient inventory of critical products for patients.”


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