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Canadian storms and British Columbia Floods

Canadian storms recorded increasing precipitation and floods in the Pacific north-west, bringing 18,000 people stranded in British Columbia.

Oliver Homes from The Guardian reported that “a month’s worth of rain” poured into the region. Four people went missing in Lillooet when a mudslide hit Highway 99. The Trans Canada Highway was washed away by a landslide close to Lytton and Nicomen. Vancouver’s port was cut off by floods.

On the 17th November, 9pm local time, evacuation alerts were issued in other regions such as the Eagle Mountain areas, Ten Oaks, Straiton areas, Matsqui Village, and Abbotsford. Policemen evacuated 180 people stranded at Abbotsford and Canadian air forces were called to aid British Columbian evacuations.

Since October, Armel Castellan, an Environment Canada meteorologist, has recorded high rainfall “in excess 300 percent of normal”, claiming this is “mind-boggling” and “extraordinary” data for scientific research. On the 14th November, the District of Hope experienced rainfall up to 174 millimetres. Meanwhile, Chilliwack broke records with 154.6 millimetres. On the 15th November, torrential rainfall triggered mudslides in Agassiz, causing 275 people to be trapped in the area. 700 residents from Merritt were ordered to evacuate.

Ashifa Kassam reported Abbotsford being hit the hardest, with 600 people being evacuated in the area. Owning Canada’s most intensive and diverse farmlands, it supplies “half of the dairy, eggs and poultry consumed by British Columbia’s 5.2 million residents”. Mayor Henry Braun estimated “2,000 out of 20,000 head of cattle in the agricultural area are believed to have died.” Braun notes that the cost of damage and reparation could amount to $1 billion.

In response to this weather event, Chris Watson from The Guardian proposed a number of factors causing and exacerbating it: heavy rain, atmospheric river, clearcut logging, and summer wildfires. Rebecca Orr, a Vancouver resident, regarded the floods as a result of climate change, saying “one of us here can deny [it] is real anymore, because it’s drowning us.” Scientists have proven the correlation between warmer temperatures and more violent atmospheric rivers, and the bringing of unusual floods.

President Joe Biden spoke on this natural disaster in relation to the climate crisis, “we’ve spent a lot of time dealing with [climate change] and we are on the same page as to the need for us to move on it, and get the rest of the world to move”.

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Melody Chan

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June 2022
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