B.C. Premier John Horgan has declared a state of emergency in the province after deadly flash floods and mudslides caused by heavy rain, the province’s Labour Minister Patty Hajdu announced Friday. More than eight people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Mud from slides and floodwater reached the threshold to evacuate at least a small town of 50 people.
Speaking Friday, Ms. Hajdu said: “We are in this together. We are a community, and we will help each other.” She said that “actions that warrant a state of emergency must be taken by the province to minimize damages to infrastructure and the economy.” She estimated that damage costs will run $500 million, a figure that is to be assessed as the floodwater continues to recede.
According to the Vancouver Sun, between 5,000 and 7,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the past four days. While the Canadian military has deployed about 300 troops to assist the province, there is a lack of resources to help the vulnerable. However, many British Columbians are visiting the “Wall of Light” in the wake of the disaster, a permanent installation installed in 2009 that memorializes soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The display of light is often lit in accordance with the Canadian Flag.
Mr. Horgan has expressed his sympathies to the families and friends of those affected, while Mr. Horgan’s Interior Minister, David Eby, visited a massive stream-channel in the Greater Victoria area Thursday, where he reportedly stood in awe of the destructive force of the water.
British Columbia experienced flooding and storms on Jan. 20, but the flooding has only accelerated over the past week as heavy rains and snow melt are predicted to continue.