Our hearts go out to all those impacted by the extreme weather and resulting flooding in British Columbia. We understand there has been one confirmed death with that number potentially rising as rescue efforts continue.
With major highways washed out, the impact will be felt well beyond the interior of B.C. Major supply chains have dramatically changed, impacting the whole province and other parts of Canada. Truck are routing through the U.S. as the only viable option. The province has declared a state of emergency. If you are interested in helping those directly impacted, you can make a donation to the Red Cross. They have set up the B.C. Floods & Extreme Weather Appeal.
Some additional information many won’t know. The Abbotsford area was once covered by Sumas Lake and lies below sea level. The lake was drained and reclaimed in 1925 with the completion of the Vedder Canal and Sumas Pump Station, which diverted the Sumas River along four creeks. As well, 40 km of flood protection dikes were also built at the time. One of the reasons for this reclamation was the mosquito infestations were so bad due to the widely changing water levels of the lake. In fact school children would be kept home from school sometimes as long as six weeks, and livestock would die from loss of blood.
Within a few years, tens of thousands of acres of farmland were added to the Lower Mainland, becoming the Sumas Prairie of quilted, pristine green fields. This area of the former lakebed became some of the most productive farmland in Canada.
This background information isn’t provided to undermine the severity of this disaster. A record 275 mm of rain fell in one day, after two weeks of rain having saturated the ground and surrounding mountains.