BC officials should have issued weather warnings, First Nations leader says

The BC government has failed to warn residents in flood-prone areas of the potential for devastation torrential rain stranded hundreds of motorists on a landslide-stricken highway and killed at least four people, a First Nations leader said.


Terry Teegee, Area Head of BC . First Council of Nations, said the province could have acted faster after a heat dome this summer claimed nearly 600 lives and a wildfire destroyed much of the town of Lytton in Fraser Canyon.

“This year alone, there’s an expectation that people should be ready now,” Teegee said in an interview on Monday.

“First Nations communities were already in deficit, even before a wildfire, even before a flood.”

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province is working with the First Nations to get them involved and meet their needs.

“One of the things that we obviously want to do when this event is over is to look at where there are gaps and make sure we address those gaps,” he said at a press conference.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather declaration for the north coast of BC. Rain is expected to move south on Monday after a so-called atmospheric river dumped unprecedented rainfall in southwest BC

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BC Flood: Evacuation orders canceled for some properties in Abbotsford

BC Flood: Evacuation orders canceled for some properties in Abbotsford

Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said melting snow could bring 40 to 70 mm of rain in the Fraser Valley. Likely over 100 mm in the North Shore mountains around Howe Sound.

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He said there will be another atmospheric river on Saturday.

“We’re not necessarily looking at a large amount of money like we did two days ago, but we are looking at a very strong signal throughout the weekend and into next week. We continue to have active hurricanes,” Castellan said.

“So I would just note that we are dealing with very positive weather for the foreseeable future, at least according to the available forecasts.”

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Teegee said some First Nations communities have been cut off by flooded roads and they are waiting for resources to be delivered by helicopter, possibly before winter storms can affect resources. their power supply.

Teegee says about 85% of the First Nations population lives in rural areas.

The First Nations Emergency Services Association works with BC Emergency Management in providing services, but Teegee says its funding is intermittent and resources such as food and water and fuel took too long to arrive due to “bureaucratic nightmares” like filling out forms when communities were evacuated.

“That has to change fundamentally,” he said.

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Floods BC: The Small First Nation Divided By Floods

Floods BC: The Small First Nation Divided By Floods

Farnworth says more than 100 Indigenous and First Nations communities have been affected by unprecedented floods and landslides in southwest BC

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He said the province has ensured culturally appropriate services are being provided by First Nations representatives at a reception center in Kamloops, for example.

“BC Emergency Management is working closely with First Nation Health Authority and First Nation Emergency Services Association to support hard-hit communities,” said Farnworth.

Patty Hajdu, federal minister for Indigenous services, on Monday announced a $4.4 million grant to the First National Emergency Services Association in BC to assist those affected. by floods.

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“The damage to people, homes, infrastructure, property, and livelihoods, as well as the continued disruption to people’s lives, is devastating,” Hajdu said in a statement. document.

Many Canadian Forces soldiers arrived in the province over the weekend to help farmers in the Sumas Prairie area of ​​Abbotsford save livestock and lend a hand in the sandbaging effort.

Farnworth said the province is working with the federal government to waive the one-week waiting period for those who qualify for employment insurance.

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BC floods: Sumas First Nation recalls injustice of ‘lost lake’

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The BC government declared a state of emergency last week and issued an order limiting fuel purchases to 30 liters per visit to a gas station to preserve supplies for commercial vehicles transporting essential goods. . It also restricts access to some highways to essential travel only.

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Merritt highway maintenance worker Ron Hagen looked at damage from floods and landslides after he was among 7,000 people who were forced out of their homes a week ago when the Coldwater River overflowed.

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“(On) one of the main roads, the water just spilled down there and there was no road left. It just takes the asphalt and moves it wherever it wants and creates this crater and washes everything away,” said Hagen, who continues to work as an essential worker.

“A lot of riverside houses, their basements are full and (water) is overflowing to the second floor. It’s that deep. ”

– With files from Bill Graveland in Kamloops and Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver.

© 2021 Canadian Press BC officials should have issued weather warnings, First Nations leader says


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