Canada’s westernmost province and home to its biggest port is bracing for more rainstorms after a deluge damaged transportation links, largely cutting it off from the rest of the country.
Parts of British Columbia remain flooded more than a week after the extreme weather forced evacuations, washed away parts of major highways and blocked main transportation routes with mud slides. Several routes have reopened for essential travel only and railways are opening up to bring goods such as lumber and grain to the Port of Vancouver, but several areas remain short on supplies such as gasoline due to the damaged infrastructure.
In some areas, panic buying emptied grocery store shelves.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has forecast a series of storms over the next 10 days, raising the threat that main transportation routes could again be shut or repairs slowed just as roads and rail tracks reopen.
“Rain is once again hitting our province with more on the way. This will impact already soaked lands and waterways. The next nine or ten days could be quite challenging,” said Mike Farnworth, British Columbia’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The severity of the approaching rain storms will become more clear as they develop, Farnworth said, adding that the province has four million sandbags ready to be deployed if needed.
“We have extra crews and equipment ready to be mobilized,” said Rob Fleming, the province’s minister of transportation and infrastructure. “We have areas where we know the amount of precipitation that was part of the rain events has accumulated and poses a risk.”
Highways are being monitored from ground level as well as by air, Fleming said.