Latest on B.C. flooding: Volunteer boaters told to slow down
TORONTO/OTTAWA -- Volunteer boaters who are helping to retrieve items from flood-ravaged areas of British Columbia are being told to slow down, as their waves are affecting the local farms.
B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham told reporters on Monday that volunteers need to be careful when traversing these areas.
“We really appreciate your help but if you could just keep the boat speeds down,” she said.
Popham added that several electrical transformers are already down, and bigger waves could hurt the farms that still have power.
A major route out of southern British Columbia has reopened after a brief closure.
Highway 3 -- also known as the Crowsnest Highway -- between the British Columbia communities of Hope and Princeton closed in both directions on Monday afternoon, before it reopened to essential traffic.
In a statement, the B.C. ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the highway had closed because “pavement cracking was observed,” but it was later deemed safe.
The highway had just reopened to alternating traffic following the first flood in the region.
The Conservatives and NDP have called for an emergency debate in the House of Commons to address the government’s plans to combat the flooding.
"Given that this type of extreme weather is more common, we need to see investments from the federal government, real proactive investments to make communities more resilient, more prepared for what is now becoming more common," said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
B.C. Conservative MPs Ed Fast and Dan Albas also called for an emergency debate on rebuilding B.C.
"The return of Parliament allows for British Columbians to see the House of Commons seized with this crisis and working together on the way forward, and this will be particularly important as the damage is assessed and rebuilding begins," they said in a joint statement.
Abbotsford, B.C. Mayor Henry Braun said on Monday that some evacuated residents are allowed to return to their homes but are still under an alert, meaning they may need to flee at a moment’s notice.
“We are still a long way from being out of danger," Braun told reporters.
Still, Braun added that the floodgates at the Barrowtown Pump Station remain operational and water is being pumped from the Sumas Prairie.
Queen Elizabeth II has issued a statement of support for British Columbians dealing with catastrophic flooding.
“My thoughts are with the people of British Columbia as you continue to confront the recent catastrophic flooding and gradually begin the process of recovery and rebuilding," the statement reads, issued through Governor General Mary May Simon.
“I am grateful for the tireless work of the many first responders and volunteers who continue to provide comfort and support to their fellow Canadians during this difficult time.”
A family in Harrison Lake, B.C. whose home was damaged following a mudslide that ripped through the property were disappointed to find out their insurance will not cover them for repairs and cleanup.
Mervyn Thomas told CTV News Vancouver that their insurance will cover damage to the family’s two vehicles and boat, but not the damage to their home.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has encouraged the Thomas family to take advantage for the government support programs to cover the costs of the damage to their home.
B.C. is bracing for a second storm as the province continues to recover from the aftermath of last week's heavy rain, which brought flooding and landslides.
As of Monday morning, six B.C. communities are under a snowfall warning from Environment and Climate Change Canada, including the Fraser Valley, which saw thousands of residents evacuated last week. The Coquihalla Highway, which had already been partially destroyed due to mudslides, is expected to see 25 to 30 centimetres of snow from Monday afternoon to Tuesday.
Three communities in the province are also under wind warnings. Winds gusting up to 110 km/h are expected in the Central Coast, Haida Gwaii and the costal sections of the North Coast.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is also warning of possible freezing rain, localized flooding and landslides in the inland sections of the North Coast. The region is under rainfall, wind and winter storm warnings, and could see up to 90 millimetres of precipitation. In the North Coast town of Stewart, B.C., near the Alaskan border, snow is expected to melt as temperatures rise Monday, which could overwhelm or block drainage systems.
Officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada are scheduled to give an update Monday afternoon.
The City of Abbotsford announced on Sunday that a breach on the Sumas River dike had been sealed and the floodgates had been open.
The closure of the breach in the dike and the opening of the floodgates means that water is no longer flowing from the Sumas River into the former Sumas Lake bed, which was artificially drained in the 1920s to make way for farmland. Instead, the Sumas is flowing directly into the Fraser River, as intended, and the pump station is pumping water out of the former lake and into the Fraser.
The city remains under a state of emergency until Nov. 29. Abbotsford officials are also expected to provide an update on the flooding Monday afternoon.
The federal government announced Sunday that employment insurance applications would be expedited for those left jobless or displaced due to the flooding in B.C.
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said affected residents should immediately apply for employment insurance benefits -- even if they wouldn't normally be eligible.
Amid shortages at gas stations and grocery stores, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said that British Columbians living near the border could cross into the U.S. to purchase essential supplies and return without requiring a COVID-19 test for re-entry.
The feds have also sent 500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to help with sandbag efforts. Defence Minister Anita Anand says thousands more are ready to go if needed.
While the B.C. government has promised accommodation reimbursements for those who were forced to leave their homes, evacuees say they are still waiting.
"For those who have been waiting, we will be reimbursing accommodation costs for those who are eligible. The process for that reimbursement is being worked through right now," Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said during a news conference Saturday.
The province has not provided an estimated number of flood-impacted British Columbians awaiting reimbursements.
The entire town of Merritt -- home to over 7,000 residents -- was forced to flee to hotels and motels in Kelowna or Kamloops, unless they had friends or family elsewhere who could temporarily house them.