Ottawa says it is prepared to send federal help to B.C. as communities across the province brace for a second round of flooding expected this week.
On Wednesday, federal ministers tweeted that they’d accepted the province’s request for backup with flood response.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan tweeted that the Canadian Forces are “ready to help.”
A warm, wet weather system is expected to move over the region this afternoon, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms that could stick around until Friday, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.
The rain would be bad news for dozens of already-swamped communities across the Interior and Kootenay Boundary regions.
“Temperatures will still stay well above normal and will only really drop down to the high teens for Friday, so snow is still melting fast over the next couple of days,” Wagstaffe said on Wednesday morning.
“Any additional rainfall will only make the situation worse, unfortunately, as it lines up just when we are expecting to see peaks in flooding.”
Starting as early as Friday, the hot dry weather is expected to return — just in time for the weekend, when many rivers are projected to peak.
Evacuations still affecting thousands
Thousands of people remain under evacuation orders and alerts after waters rose around the province last week, making many areas unsafe for residents.
Alerts are now being extended to the Lower Mainland, where officials issued a new alert for residents of Barnston Island on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, several communities, including Grand Forks and Osoyoos, held public meetings to update residents on what to expect and what’s being done.
Many residents are physically and emotionally exhausted from a week of sandbagging and salvaging.
Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that the provincial government will match donations to the Red Cross to support those affected by the flooding, up to a total of $20 million. The campaign will run until July 31.
On Wednesday, the federal government said it has accepted B.C.’s request for help with flood response and that the Canadian Forces are ready.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said he received the request in the afternoon.
Appeal for troops
In the Kootenay Boundary region, where wildfire crews have been helping out already, officials are asking the federal government to send in the army to help.
“Everyone is starting to wear out,” said Roly Russell, chair of the Kootenay Boundary Regional District.
“It doesn’t matter at this point if it’s for prevention for what is coming at us in the couple of days, or whether it is for a response for what does happen in a couple of days or whether it’s for recovery, we simply need more bodies on the ground here,” he said.
Russell said the district is making the request for the military through its MP, but he also wants the premier to make the request to bring in the Armed Forces.
When asked about the request, Premier John Horgan said it would be discussed shortly.
A spokesperson for Emergency Management BC, Jordan Turner, later confirmed talks are underway with federal counterparts about what resources could be used to help flood relief efforts.
But Turner said the province would not request the army to come in. Instead, it would request help for a specific need and leave it up to the federal government to decide what resources should be sent to help in the emergency.