OTTAWA – The federal government has confirmed that an initial group of 300 Canadian Armed Forces soldiers is being deployed to BC to assist with evacuation efforts as extreme flooding wreaks havoc in the region. south of the province.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the group would help reduce barriers in the supply chain, getting people out of flood and landslide sites, sandbags around water pumping stations, etc.
“I spoke with the chief of defense staff today, and they will provide the logistical support and bring in all the resources needed to help BC get through this very difficult time,” Blair said on Power Play. by CTV News on Wednesday.
“Aircraft and helicopters will be brought into the area.”
Blair added that up to 4,000 employees are ready to be mobilized to help.
The move is in response to BC’s request for federal assistance, confirmed in a statement from Blair posted on Twitter earlier in the day.
“I talked to the Minister [Mike Farnworth] to let him know that we stand with the people of British Columbia during this extremely difficult time and are working to provide the support they need as quickly as possible,” he said.
Severe weather conditions prompted a series of evacuation orders.
Officials in Abbotsford are urging Sumas Prairie residents who have not yet evacuated to do so “immediately” as devastating floodwaters threaten the Barrowtown Pumping Station.
There is still an evacuation order for the city of Merritt.
BC RCMP officials on Tuesday confirmed one casualty – the body of a woman was recovered from the scene of a landslide along Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lilooet. Investigators say two people have also been reported missing.
Defense Minister Anita Anand also weigh Fourth, restore federal government support to the region.
“British Columbia: When Canadians need help, our Canadian Forces will be there,” she tweeted.
Heading into the Conservative caucus today, BC-based Conservative MP Brad Vis thanked Blair for meeting him earlier in the morning to discuss the situation and the deployment of CAF personnel.
“Our country is facing an unprecedented situation in the province of BC. Everyone needs to come together to support rebuilding in British Columbia to keep everyone safe. I am grateful that the military has been called in and the appropriate steps are being taken,” he said.
“This is not a partisan thing. This is a Team Canada thing. ”
Conservative MP Ed Fast, MP for Abbotsford, spoke about future infrastructure needs.
“These are long-term fixes that cannot be solved overnight… This is a huge multi-billion dollar challenge that our country is facing our province,” he said. .
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while speaking in Washington at the start of the Three Amigos summit on Wednesday, took a moment to acknowledge the state of emergency and noted that Ottawa was ready to help pick up the pieces. broken afterwards.
“I spoke to prime ministers and several mayors last night to talk about how people are doing in this horribly bad situation,” he said.
“We’ll be there to clean up and rebuild from the impact of these extreme weather events.”
According to the prime minister’s office, Trudeau spoke to Blair before meeting with Parliament later in the day and asked him to convene a meeting of the ministerial Incident Response Team to respond to the crisis.
Blair said he has tasked his cabinet colleagues with ideas on how best to preserve what remains while addressing immediate needs.
He said the first goal of the business is to pave the way to provide emergency services to those stranded.
“There are supplies that really need to be maintained, and we understand the importance of moving on them as quickly as possible. That is being evaluated,” he said, adding that he was working with his provincial counterparts on the matter.
With files from CTV News ‘Hannah Jackson