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

The centre that monitors the province's waterways said several storms will drench B.C., dropping up to 70 millimetres of rain over the Fraser Valley, including flood-damaged Abbotsford Thursday, and even more over Vancouver's North Shore mountains.
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Members of the Canadian Forces build a temporary dike with sandbags behind houses on Clayburn Creek ahead of a rainfall warning Environment Canada has forecast for the region, which is already affected by flooding, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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

A statement from the federal ministers of transport and emergency preparedness said the government is contributing up to $4.1 million to ease bottlenecks at Vancouver ports.

The congestion was caused by the aftermath of floods that severed all rail and road travel between metro Vancouver and B.C.'s Interior.

The statement said 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 funding comes as the first in a line of storms sweeps across B.C. at a time when the province works to rebuild from last week's devastating flooding and deadly mudslides.

Wind and rainfall warnings blanket most of the B.C. coast and powerful gusts pushed a loaded container ship aground in Prince Rupert harbour on Tuesday, but the vessel was refloated with no apparent damage.

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

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

The government was making headway on recovery since last week's floods, 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 was on track to reopen Thursday, while Canadian Pacific Railway announced the first trains had arrived in Vancouver from Kamloops carrying grain and fuel.

The province is in "uncharted territory," Farnworth said Wednesday.

"These storms are coming at a time when we're already grappling with some of the most destructive weather we've ever seen," he said.

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

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the government is prepared to close some roads as a precaution as modellers try to predict where damage might occur.

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

The RCMP is investigating a report of a missing woman who was unable to leave a home on Highway 8 before it was washed away last week. Four bodies have been recovered from a mudslide along Highway 99 near Lillooet and one man is still missing.

The centre that monitors the province's waterways said several storms will drench B.C., dropping up to 70 millimetres of rain over the Fraser Valley, including flood-damaged Abbotsford Thursday, and even more over Vancouver's North Shore mountains.

The statement from the River Forecast Centre said another storm will arrive Saturday and "additional storms are expected early next week," although the amount and severity of rainfall are still being determined.

Rivers in the Fraser Valley could rise by amounts similar to typical fall storms but could be "more problematic due to flood response and recovery efforts and damaged infrastructure in the region," it said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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