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Canada strives to reach 18,000 stranded people as flood waters recede

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Flooding covers the Trans Canada Highway 1 after devastating rain storms near Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada on Monday.

CANADA: Canada was still trying to reach 18,000 people stranded on Thursday after floods and mudslides destroyed roads, houses and bridges in what could be the costliest natural disaster in the country’s history.

Receding flood waters were helping rescue efforts, but the downpour blocked off entire towns in the province of British Columbia and cut access to the country’s largest port in Vancouver, disrupting already strained global supply chains.

Premier John Horgan declared a state of emergency and said the death toll would rise from the one confirmed fatality.

Many towns are in mountainous areas to the east and northeast of Vancouver with limited access.

Shoppers emptied grocery shelves, although the shortages were as much down to panic buying as disrupted supply chains.

In Ottawa, Minister for Emergencies Preparedness Bill Blair said all river flows in the province were beginning to drop as the rain lightened. Defence Minister Anita Anand said the military would be there for at least 30 days.

The flooding also hit the US state of Washington, as President Joe Biden noted before a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At one point the city of Abbotsford, to the east of Vancouver, feared the waters would overwhelm their pumping station and force the evacuation of all 160,000 residents.

Mayor Henry Braun said on Thursday estimated the recovery work would cost up to C$1 billion ($792 million) to repair local damage.

This strongly suggests the final amount will far exceed the C$3.6 billion in insured losses from wildfires that hit Alberta’s oil-producing region of Fort McMurray in May 2016.

“Easily the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. Won’t even be close,” tweeted University of Calgary economics professor Blake Shaffer, a specialist in climate policy. The disruption to Vancouver’s operations is set to exacerbate existing supply chain issues and could even make Christmas trees harder to find, farmers said. – THE JAPAN TIMES

Saturday, November 20, 2021 – 01:00

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