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B.C. public safety minister says upcoming storms are ‘uncharted territory’

The major arterial supply route of Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley is on track to reopen on Nov. 25.

November 25, 2021  The Canadian Press

British Columbia remains in “uncharted territory” with a chain of storms set to sweep over areas of the province that are already struggling to recover from devastating flooding, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Nov. 24.

Wind and rainfall warnings blanketed most of the B.C. coast and they come after about a dozen so-called atmospheric rivers have saturated land in the province since September.

Farnworth said even routine rainfall may cause already swollen rivers to rise to dangerous heights and he urged residents to prepare for evacuations and watch for updates.

“These storms are coming at a time when we’re already grappling with some of the must destructive weather we’ve ever seen,” Farnworth said.

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“Although we are up to the challenge, we are working through a monumental task.”

The government is making headway on recovery since last week’s floods, he added, with supply chains stabilizing, gas shortages starting to ease and some evacuees allowed to return to their homes.

The major arterial supply route of Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley is on track to reopen on Nov. 25, while Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. announced the first trains arrived in Vancouver from Kamloops on Nov. 24 carrying grain and fuel.

However, the government also acknowledged that it has heard concerns from Indigenous communities about a lack of communication in advance of the last flooding, systemic racism in the emergency response system and complicated procedures for accessing support.

“I heard we have more work to do,” Indigenous Relations Minister Murray Rankin said regarding a call with First Nations leaders on Nov. 23.

BC Hydro warned of potential power outages and said in a statement that teams were releasing water from some reservoirs, which were already full, in anticipation of more rainfall.

More than 258,000 people lost power during last week’s storms.