British Columbia introduces limits on gas and restricts non-urgent travel by road after floods
The British Columbia government announced Friday it is limiting the amount of fuel people can purchase at gas stations in some parts of the Canadian province and is restricting non-essential travel as highways begin to reopen following torrential rains that caused devastating flooding and mudslides.
Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said non-essential vehicles will be limited to about 30 liters (eight gallons) per trip to the gas station. The order is expected to last until December 1.
‘These steps will keep commercial traffic moving, stabilize our supply chains and make sure everyone gets home safely,’ Farnworth told a news conference.
‘We are asking people not to travel through severely affected areas, for their own well-being, but also to make sure the fuel we do have goes toward the services people need in this time of crisis.’
Environment Canada says 24 British Columbia communities received close to four inches of rain from last Saturday to Monday.
Motorists purchase fuel at a gas station in Kamloops, British Columbia as the province begins rationing gas and prohibiting non-essential travel as fuel supplies are choked following recent devastating floods
A vehicle looks for fuel at at gas station that has run out of gas in Abbotsford, Canada. Record rainfall this week has resulted in widespread flooding and the closing of a major highway, disrupting the supply chain
A pick up truck is seen on the Trans Canada highway after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia, triggering landslides and floods, shutting highways, in Abbottsford on Friday
The exit for No. 3 road on the Trans Canada highway is seen after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia, triggering landslides and floods, shutting highways, in Abbottsford, British Columbia, Canada
The Trans Canada highway remains partially submerged by flood water after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia
A pickup truck tows a boat through floodwater after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia
Damage from floodwaters is seen on Boundary Road, that separates the United States, right, and Canada, left, following heavy rains in Abbotsford on Friday
Tw men place sandbags to try and stop the rising floodwaters following heavy rain in Barrowtown near Abbotsford, British Columbia on Friday
Debris is piled up as farms are surrounded by flood waters caused by heavy rains and mudslides in Abbotsford, British Columbia
Debris is piled up as farms are surrounded by floodwaters caused by heavy rains and mudslides in Abbotsford
A truck sits submerged in floodwaters on Friday in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following record rainfall earlier this week
Erosion from a dyke is seen on a field after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia triggering landslides and floods
Erosion from a dyke is seen on a field after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia
Farms are seen flooded on Friday in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following record rainfall earlier this week that has resulted in widespread flooding of farms, landslides and the evacuation of residents
The precautionary closure of the Trans Mountain Pipeline during the flooding has raised concerns about a fuel shortage in the province’s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Assessments of the pipeline continue.
Farnworth said police will not patrol gas stations to make sure customers are complying with the new restrictions.
‘The majority of British Columbians will do the right thing,’ he said. ‘If we are greedy, we will fail. It´s that´s simple.’
The government also has prohibited non-essential travel on sections of several highways.
The storms forced the closure of the Trans Mountain pipeline and cut two critical east-west rail lines owned by Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway Co that lead to Canada’s busiest port of Vancouver, impeding the supply of fuel and goods.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said vehicles transporting essential products or delivering vital services can use the highways. So can people returning to their principle residences after being stranded.
Damage from severe flooding is seen in the Sumas Prairie area of Abbotsford, British Columbia south of a closed Hwy 1, seen earlier this week
A sign alerting customers that the station is out of gasoline is posted on a gas pump at a Chevron station on Friday. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following the record rainfall
A man places sandbags to try and stop the rising floodwaters following heavy rain in Barrowtown near Abbotsford
A tractor drives over a flooded road following heavy rain in Abbotsford, British Columbia on Friday
A tractor drives over a flooded road following heavy rain and mudslides in Abbotsford
Tw men place sandbags to try and stop the rising floodwaters following heavy rain in Barrowtown near Abbotsford
‘It is not open to recreational or non-essential travel,’ he said.
Fleming said the highways between Vancouver and Hope, and from Hope to Princeton had been opened to vehicles.
‘This will reestablish a vital link allowing for the movement of essential goods and services,’ he said.
A section of highway near Pemberton, where one person is confirmed dead in a landslide that swept vehicles off a road and a search continues for four people believed to be missing, could be open by Sunday.
Fleming thanked the federal government for announcing ‘some very helpful measures’ to fast track B.C. truckers traveling to the U.S.
The U.S. is temporarily relaxing some permit requirements so British Columbia trucks can cross into Washington State then re-enter Canada past the damaged highways.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said 959 farms remain under an evacuation order and 50,656 acres remain impacted by the flood.
Also, 35 veterinarians, many from Alberta, are on standby to assist the province.
Fleming said there is no timeline for when temporary and permanent repairs will be completed to the highways or estimates for what the costs will be.
‘It’s going to be very, very significant,’ he said.
A worker moves a load of sawdust as cleanup work is underway after floodwaters receded at a chicken farm in Abbotsford
Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY Rail Link) employees survey a section of rail lines that are washed out in numerous places and covered in debris after flood waters receded following heavy rains in Abbotsford,
The Trans Canada highway remains partially submerged by flood water after rainstorms lashed British Columbia
A breach in the dyke at Cole Road is seen after rainstorms triggered landslides and floods, which led to the shutting of highways
A breach in the dyke at Cole Road is seen after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia
Hours before the restrictions were announced, the flood-battered province received some good news when Canadian Pacific Railroad said work to repair damaged infrastructure would continue non-stop and service should be restored in the middle of next week.
‘Barring any unforeseen issues, we currently estimate service will be restored mid-week,’ spokesperson Salem Woodrow said.
The Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries up to 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta province to the Pacific coast, also said it was ‘optimistic’ that it can restart the pipeline in some capacity by the end of next week.
CN said it was making progress in repairing its impacted rail network in British Columbia, but it expects the repair work to continue at least into next week.
The disaster looks set to be the costliest natural disaster to ever hit Canada.
The railway shutdowns have left exporters of commodities scrambling to divert shipments away from Vancouver and underscored the vulnerability of Canada’s supply chains to climate change.
Near-empty shelves line a grocery store in Kelowna, following catastrophic flooding in British Columbia, Canada
A swollen creek flows under a washed out bridge at the Carolin Mine interchange with Coquihalla Highway after devastating rain storms caused flooding and landslides, near Hope, British Columbia
Railroad cars holding logs lies on its side where tracks were damaged, after rainstorms hit both British Columbia and Washington state
A dairy farm is reflected in floodwater following heavy rains and mudslides in Sumas Prairie near Chilliwack, British Columbia
Utility poles along Number 5 Rd. are reflected in floodwater following heavy rains and mudslides in Sumas Prairie
A farm is seen submerged in floodwater following heavy rains and mudslides in Sumas Prairie near Chilliwack
: A car sits submerged in floodwaters on Friday in Abbotsford, British Columbia
A traffic sign stands in floodwaters on Friday in Abbotsford, British Columbia
Water pumps are still working flat out in the city of Abbotsford to the east of Vancouver. If they fail, officials said all 160,000 residents may have to leave.
Bruce Banman, a provincial lawmaker who represents the area, surveyed the damage from a helicopter on Friday and said about 50% of agriculture-rich Sumas prairie remains underwater.
‘The damage is significant, it’s catastrophic,’ he said. ‘It’s heartbreaking to see. There are farmers still trying to save livestock.’
He said infrastructure repairs alone would cost more than $790 million and that did not cover the loss of crops.
‘I was talking with a farmer who had cabbage and Brussels sprouts yet to be harvested and he figures he’s lost a million tonnes of produce,’ he said.
After the massive rainfall between Saturday and Monday brought a month’s worth of rain in two days, farmers desperately tried to save their dairy cows using boats and jet skis, while authorities pledged with residents not to panic-buy groceries.
‘Torrential rains have led to terrible flooding that has disrupted the lives and taken lives of people across BC. I want people to know that the federal government has been engaging with the local authorities,’ Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. ‘We’re sending resources like the Canadian Armed Forces to support people, but also, we’ll be there for the cleanup and the rebuilding after impacts of these extreme weather events.’
‘We expect to confirm even more fatalities in the coming days,’ British Columbia Premier John Horgan said. Pictured: Damage caused by heavy rains and mudslides is seen along the Coquihalla Highway.
Pictured: Crowds gather along the Trans-Canada highway to view flooding after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia.
Pictured: Cows that were stranded in a flooded barn are rescued by a group of people, including a man on a sea doo, after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia.
The entrance to a blueberry farm is blocked by rising flood waters on earlier this week in Abbotsford
In this aerial image, damage caused by heavy rains and mudslides earlier in the week is pictured along the Coquihalla Highway near Hope, British Columbia, on Thursday, November 18.
Floodwaters cover Highway 1 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, on Tuesday, November 16.