B.C. floods: Next 10 days could be challenging with another storm coming, minister says

Many parts of B.C. could be facing another challenging stretch of weather in the next nine to 10 days, Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said Tuesday.

While many areas continue to rebuild and repair from the previous storm, more wet and windy weather is concerning for crews working around the clock to fix dikes, roads and homes, he said.

“We are a resilient province,” Farnworth said.

“The size of the fight we are in together is significant. It’s enormous.”

Farnworth said more than 6,500 evacuees have registered with the province so far and more than 120 military troops are working in Abbotsford to help build up the infrastructure.

The next storm is expected to hit overnight Wednesday. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, particularly near the mountains. It will also impact the Sea to Sky corridor and the Sunshine Coast from Gibsons to Earls Cove.

Some good news, however: CP Rail was set to resume shipments Tuesday afternoon, with CN Rail expected to resume on Wednesday.

About 1,500 people were able to return to their homes in Merritt on Tuesday as well, he said.

To keep supply chains moving, the province has made Highway 7 from Murray Street in Mission to Highway 1 in Hope an essential travel route.

This will go into effect from 8 p.m. Tuesday until further notice.

Essential travel will now include public transit, charter buses, and school buses on this route in order to help essential workers get to work and children to get to school.

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In Abbotsford, water levels continue to recede in the Sumas Prairie region, giving displaced residents and farmers a sign of hope.

The city said Monday water levels have fallen by seven inches now that the breaches on the Sumas River are sealed.

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Evacuation orders have been rescinded for some properties north of Highway 1 along with businesses east of Whatcom Road.

At the peak, water levels were increasing by three feet within an hour.

However, that did not stop neighbours from saving 250 cows from a local dairy farm. The team used 10 cattle trucks and the cows were safely moved within two hours.

The dairy farmers credit crews for quickly repairing the breaches and preventing further damage.

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Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the most important work continues to be maintaining supply chains and opening key routes.

Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley remains a priority but there are no new openings along that route.

Highway 7 to Highway 3 remains the only route for essential vehicles to and from the Interior, Fleming said and while Highway 3 had to close briefly Monday, it is back open on Tuesday.

Highway 8 from Merritt to Spences Bridge remains closed as Fleming said 18 segments of the highway sustained damage and at least four bridges are gone or washed away.

Fleming is reminding everyone not to travel unless it is essential. Highway 7 and Highway 99 had to close briefly on Monday due to “preventable accidents,” Fleming said and outside of the Lower Mainland, it is winter conditions on many of the roads.

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