Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MLA Rice recounts weekend travels to gauge impact of current flooding risk

It's Spring Flooding season in British Columbia,  MLA Jennifer Rice
toured some of the affected areas of the Interior over the last few days
to assess the situation and provide an update to the Legislature

(Photo from Emergency Info BC twitter freed)

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice took to duties as Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness over the weekend, travelling to a number of Interior Communities to assess the situation of rising flood waters and the potential impact to those in potential peril.

Upon her return to Victoria for the resumption of Legislature proceedings this week, she provided an update for the House as to what many British Columbians may be facing this week.

I've just returned from flood-impacted communities in the South Okanagan and Similkameen communities. I went because I wanted to see for myself what's happening on the ground in regards to these high-water and flooding events. I met with local people, local governments, local MLAs and First Nations to see and hear directly how this year's spring freshet and subsequent flooding is impacting people. 

As the member for Fraser-Nicola mentioned, I want to highlight that her people are indeed hard-working, committed and resilient. It's a trying time, and we want British Columbians to know that we are here to help.

We're monitoring what's happening and reducing the risks wherever we can. A higher-than-normal snowpack combined with hot temperatures has led to ongoing river rises and flooding incidents throughout the province in a number of communities. 

 Temperatures are expected to increase again this week, leading to more snow melt runoff. A state of local emergency has been declared for 17 communities and eight First Nations, and 21 evacuation orders are in effect across this province. Furthermore, 22 communities are under an evacuation alert, and a reception centre has been opened to support those affected by flooding.

Ms. Rice also outlined the scope of the planning for local governments to access,  ranging from the number of sandbags that stand ready to be put into use, to the activation of the Emergency Response centre in Saanich to assess and respond to situations across British Columbia.

We have more than two million sandbags issued to local governments to protect homes and public infrastructure, and we've deployed 160 firefighters from the B.C. Wildfire Service to assist with sandbagging in communities. We've also announced several major funding programs. We've announced funding for flood prevention and emergency preparedness, including funding for the national disaster mitigation program, the community emergency preparedness fund and several flood projects throughout the province. Communities throughout B.C. are now benefitting from $33½ million in provincial emergency preparedness funding.

 In response to flooding events, we've activated the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre on the Saanich Peninsula in order to coordinate flood response throughout the province. We've also activated three provincial regional emergency operations centres in Kamloops, Prince George and Nelson to provide support to local governments. 

 Through the river forecast centre, we're providing water flow expertise as well as dam safety officers, geotechnical specialists and engineers in affected areas. We're working closely with local governments and First Nations, monitoring the increased risk closely and mitigating wherever we can.

Her statement to the House, which took place during the Morning session of the Legislature can be viewed below:

For the Northwest, the key areas of concern at the moment are found in the Bulkley Valley Region with the Rivers Forecast Centre issuing advisories for the Smithers, Houston and Burns Lake areas where a Flood Watch was issued on Monday.

Further east a High Stream Advisory was issued for the Nechako River and tributaries in the Burns Lake and Fraser Lake areas.

Bulkley River upgraded to flood watch
Burns Lake, Houston and Smithers Under Flood Watch for Bulkley River
Flood Watch Issued for Bulkley River

The latest updates from the Rivers Forecast Centre can be reviewed here.

Emergency Info British Columbia hosts a listing of Evacuation Orders and Alerts on their website, you can review the latest notes from those files here.

For more items of note from the Legislature, see our archive page here.

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