Line of storms approaches as B.C. works to recover from recent floods

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Members of the Canadian Forces build a temporary dike with sandbags behind homes on Claiburn Creek ahead of a rain warning Environment Canada forecasts for an area already affected by flooding, Abbotsford, BC, November 24 To.Darryl Dyke/The Canadian Press

The federal government and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority say they are working together to address supply chain disruptions following severe flooding in British Columbia.

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The government is contributing up to $4.1 million to ease bottlenecks at Vancouver ports, a statement from federal ministers for transportation and emergency preparedness said.

The congestion was caused by the aftermath of a flood that broke all rail and road travel between Metro Vancouver and the interior of BC.

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Spence Bridge, BC, residents worry about future after floods

The plan, led by the Port Authority, will add container storage capacity by opening up an undeveloped 16-hectare parcel of industrial land in Richmond to hold empty containers, the statement said.

The funding comes as a first in line to storm across B.C. as the province works to rebuild from last week’s devastating floods and deadly landslides.

Wind and rain warnings blanketed much of the BC coast and powerful gusts pushed a loaded container ship around in Prince Rupert harbor on Tuesday, but there was no apparent damage to the ship.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said Thursday’s storm follows about a dozen so-called atmospheric rivers that have saturated land in the province since September.

Rivers already overflowing with regular rain can rise to dangerous heights and he urged residents to prepare for evacuations and watch updates

The government was moving toward recovery since last week’s floods, with supply chains stabilizing, gas shortages beginning to ease and some evacuees allowed to return to their homes.

Highway 1’s major arterial supply route through the Fraser Valley was on track to reopen Thursday, while the Canadian Pacific Railway announced the first trains had arrived in Vancouver carrying grain and fuel from Kamloops.

The province is in “unknown territory”, Farnsworth said on Wednesday.

“These storms are coming at a time when we are already battling the most devastating weather we have ever seen,” he said.

“While we are up to the challenge, we are working through an important task.”

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the government was prepared to close some roads as a precaution as modelers try to predict where the damage might be.

The number of people killed or missing in the floods has risen to six.

The RCMP is investigating reports of a missing woman who was unable to leave before a house on Highway 8 was gutted last week. Four bodies have been recovered from a landslide on Highway 99 near Lilleut and one person is still missing.

The center that oversees the province’s waterways said several storms would lash B.C., dropping up to 70 millimeters of rain on the Fraser Valley, including more over flood-damaged Abbotsford and Vancouver’s North Shore mountains, by Thursday.

The River Forecast Center statement said another storm would hit Saturday and that “additional storms are expected early next week,” although the amount and severity of rain are still being determined.

Rivers in the Fraser Valley may rise by a similar amount to storm surges in general, but may be “more problematic due to flood response and recovery efforts and damaged infrastructure in the area”.

Officials provide an update on the flood response in B.C. as the province prepares itself for more storms, which are expected to sweep areas of the province already struggling to recover from last week’s floods.

canadian press

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