OTTAWA – Defense Minister Anita Anand has confirmed that by the end of Thursday, 120 Canadian Armed Forces personnel will be in Abbotsford, BC to provide emergency flood assistance there.
Anand, along with Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, provided an update on the military and government support that is underway. transferred to British Columbia.
“Over the next 30 days and possibly longer if needed, the Canadian Armed Forces will be there to help the people of British Columbia through this crisis,” the Defense Secretary said.
“They can evacuate people to safety, help those who are vulnerable, stranded or in distress, support critical provincial supply chains, investigate the impact of floods to help BC plan plan relief efforts and assist local governments in protecting critical infrastructure.”
It is the fourth day of a flood crisis that has affected the southwestern region of the province and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
Abbotsford’s farming community has been particularly hard hit and the mayor says floodwaters could take weeks to pump out.
The BC provincial government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, the same day the federal government confirmed it had received its request for federal assistance.
Anand said the ministry has mobilized a reconnaissance team to assess the situation along with provincial officials.
“This important step ensures that our deployed troops will be able to provide the broadest range of support to help the people of British Columbia,” she said.
Up to 350 employees are ready to be deployed from Edmonton, as part of the immediate response unit. There are currently two CAF-operated helicopters in the area, conducting damage assessments.
“If needed, we have thousands more members ready to help the province,” Anand said.
This is the 12th disaster-related assistance request CAF has responded to since the start of the pandemic, excluding 71 requests related to COVID-19.
“I acknowledge that the pandemic has been difficult for the Canadian Armed Forces. The number of times we’ve been called up, we’ve been understaffed and our hiring and training systems have suffered accordingly,” said acting Defense Secretary Wayne Eyre, also present at press conference said.
“But I must say, we continue to respond to urgent requests and there is nothing more important to the Canadian Armed Forces than protecting Canadians here at home… this is an operational priority. our flagship.”
More details to come…