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B.C. warns next 10 days could be 'quite challenging' as more storms set to hit

Wednesday, November 24th 2021, 9:00 pm - Forecasters warn river levels could rise with heavy rainfall, and flooding conditions could worsen

THE LATEST:

  • A series of storms in coming days and weeks is raising concerns for communities and roads already impacted by flooding and washouts.
  • Abbotsford residents in Sumas Prairie have been advised not to drink the region's water.
  • British Columbians who were forced to evacuate due to flooding are now entitled to $2,000 from the Red Cross — that's in addition to other financial support programs.
  • Canadian Pacific Railway resumed operations through B.C., on Tuesday, and Canadian National Rail plans to resume rail traffic today.
  • Non-essential travel restrictions remain in place for several areas of highway impacted by floods.
  • Restaurants are running out of food and other supplies, which is impacting their bottom line after an already difficult two years.
  • Recycle B.C. is asking residents to hang on to glass and foam packaging as transportation delays have forced a temporary pause on collection.

BCRain

British Columbia is bracing for more rainfall in coming days and weeks as the province works to rebuild after unprecedented precipitation earlier this month.

Up to 80 millimetres of rain is forecast for Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound, Whistler and the Fraser Valley, starting this morning and continuing until Friday.

Strong southeast winds near the water are also predicted as part of this weather system, and freezing levels will rise above mountain tops, which could trigger snowmelt and worsen the flooding situation.

CBC: Debris litters a road in the Sumas Prairie flood zone in Abbotsford, B.C. on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC) Debris litters a road in the Sumas Prairie flood zone in Abbotsford, B.C. on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The River Forecast Centre has issued a High Streamflow Advisory for the South Coast including the Fraser Valley and near Hope — both of which have been trying to recover from severe flood damage.

Forecasters expect rivers will rise Thursday as a result of the rainfall.

Wind, rain and snowfall warnings are in effect for parts of Vancouver Island, the Central Coast and North Coast.

But once that storm passes through, another one is set to arrive on the coast on Saturday.

B.C. Hydro released a statement Wednesday saying it anticipates increased water flow into its South Coast and Vancouver Island reservoirs and a higher risk of power outages this week due to the weather.

Last week's weather also caused power outages as heavy wind and landslides damaged some parts of the province's hydro system and crews are working to replace transmission structures, power lines and wires while heading into the next series of storms.

The utility corporation is asking the public to be prepared in case they lose power in the coming days and to stay 10 metres away from fallen power lines.

"The next nine or 10 days could be quite challenging," Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said during a press conference on Tuesday, as he asked British Columbians to pay close attention to weather forecasts for coming days.

Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun is advising residents to prepare an emergency kit ahead of the storm.

RED CROSS: British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal

ABBOTSFORD WATER ADVISORY

On Wednesday, the City of Abbotsford replaced a boil water advisory for residents in the Sumas Prairie area with a do not use water advisory.

Toilet flushing is permitted, but the city says there are uncontrollable water main breaches in the region that could allow surface water to affect the supply of drinking water.

The affected area stretches from Angus Campbell Road in the west, to Highway One in the north, the boundary with Chilliwack in the east and to the U.S. border and Old Yale Road in the south. Other parts of Abbotsford are not affected.

The advisory could remain in place for several days.

HIGHWAYS ARE CLOSED FOR NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

Highways washed out by floods remain closed, though essential travel is allowed in some areas.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says to check highways before heading out on the road, because many are closed for non-essential travel.

On Tuesday, Highway 7 between Hope and Mission was closed to non-essential travel, however the definition of essential travel was updated to include charter busses, school busses and public transit vehicles so that people are still able to get to school or work.

"First rule is ask yourself, 'Do I need to be out there?' Don't be out there unless it's absolutely essential," Fleming said Tuesday afternoon.

"If you are driving, slow down and follow the direction of traffic control personnel and be patient, it will be slow as you make your commute. If you're heading out of the Lower Mainland be prepared for winter conditions."

CANADA GETTING ITS OWN ATMOSPHERIC RIVER RATING SCALE:

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) operations between Kamloops and Vancouver resumed Tuesday after flooding and mudslides cut vital supply links last week.

The route is CP's busiest corridor and links the Port of Vancouver to the rest of North America. The first trains arrived in Vancouver Wednesday morning carrying grain and fuel.

KEEP RECYCLING AT HOME FOR NOW

Road conditions have made it difficult to transport recycling in B.C., which has prompted the organization in charge of recycling to pause collection on some materials.

Recycle B.C. is asking residents to hang on to their glass and foam, as it has had to temporarily suspend collection from both residential addresses and depots.

Containers and paper will continue to be collected as usual, because Recycle B.C., says they can be baled and stored more compactly.

It is unclear how long the collection suspension will last, as the transportation situation in B.C., continues to change.

This article was originally published for CBC News. Contains files from Winston Szeto, Bridgette Watson.

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