BC reopens major section of flood-damaged Trans-Canada Highway in Fraser Valley

By The Canadian Press on November 25, 2021.

Members of the Canadian forces are building a temporary dike with sandbags behind houses on Clayburn Creek ahead of a rain warning. Environment Canada has predicted the region already affected by floods in Abbotsford, BC, Wednesday, November 24, 2021. CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA – A large portion of the flood-damaged Trans-Canada Highway reopened Thursday afternoon in British Columbia, which the government says will help connect the lower mainland with the province’s interior.

The provincial government says the section of Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford has been cleared to reopen and it will connect the Lower Mainland with Highway 3 as major weather routes continue to be rebuilt from last week’s floods.

The motorway will not be subject to a significant travel order, but the government is asking people to stay off Highway 1 through Abbotsford unless it is necessary to travel, adding that reduced speed limits will be in place so drivers can expect slow traffic.

Transport Minister Rob Fleming says Coquihalla Highway will not reopen to commercial traffic until late January.

Meanwhile, the federal government and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced that they are working together to address supply chain disruptions.

A statement from the federal Department of Transportation and Emergency Planning said the government is contributing up to $ 4.1 million to ease bottlenecks in Vancouver ports.

The congestion was caused by the aftermath of floods that disrupted all rail and road transportation between Metro Vancouver and BC’s interior.

The statement says the plan, led by the Port Authority, will add container storage capacity by opening an undeveloped 16-acre industrial land in Richmond to accommodate empty containers.

Wind and precipitation warnings cover most of BC, while the province continues its rebuilding from the floods.

BC Secretary of Public Safety 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 can cause already swollen rivers to rise to dangerous heights, and he urged residents to prepare for evacuation and keep an eye out for updates.

BC can expect three rainfall events over the next few days, with a major storm forecast to hit the southern part of the province on Tuesday, Farnworth said.

The government has made progress in recovery, stabilizing supply chains, reducing gas shortages and allowing some evacuees to return to their homes. The Canadian Pacific Railway announced that their first train has arrived in Vancouver from Kamloops with grain and fuel.

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 being flushed away last week. Four bodies have been found after a mudslide along Highway 99 near Lillooet and a man is still missing.

The center, which monitors the province’s waterways, said several storms will soak up BC, with up to 70 millimeters of rain falling over Fraser Valley, including flood-damaged Abbotsford on Thursday, and even more over Vancouver’s North Shore mountains.

The statement from the River Forecast Center said another storm will arrive on Saturday and “further storms are expected early next week”, although the amount and severity of precipitation is still being determined.

Rivers in the Fraser Valley may rise by similar amounts to typical hurricanes, but may be “more problematic due to flooding and recovery efforts and damaged infrastructure in the region,” it said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 25, 2021.

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