Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has released the following statement marking one year since the November 2021 atmospheric river:
“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the atmospheric river in British Columbia that flooded homes and farmlands, washed away roads and infrastructure, displaced more than 3,300 people, and tragically took the lives of five people. I share the grief and anguish of everyone affected by this disastrous event.
“The past year has been tremendously difficult for people recovering from this devastating flooding – waiting for support funding, insurance payments and any needed repairs. And while there have been many challenges, British Columbians and communities have come together to support each other during these unprecedented circumstances.
“Last week, I travelled through the Fraser Valley, met with First Nations and local governments, and visited with homeowners, farmers and small business owners affected by last year’s atmospheric river. I was impressed by how much progress had been made in repairs and rebuilding efforts. Rivers have been cleared of debris, and homes and barns that were completely flooded last year are now standing strong and operational. Even more so, I was inspired by people’s resiliency and perseverance.
“We have made significant progress as a province – from rebuilding highways to clearing nearly all debris, and from repairing dikes to providing more than $24 million in Disaster Financial Assistance to people, small businesses and charitable organizations. Last week, I was happy to announce that the Sumas River main dike is being permanently repaired with $1.6 million in Disaster Financial Assistance funding. Repairs are expected to be complete by the end of the month. There is much to be proud of, and yet I recognize there is much work still to do.
“We must continue to adjust to the reality of climate change. That means better flood planning and mapping, and that work is underway through the B.C. Flood Strategy. That means more funding for communities to mitigate disaster risks through programs like the Green Infrastructure Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation program and the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. It also means modernizing our emergency management legislation, which we’re co-developing with First Nations, Treaty Nations and Métis leaders.
“We know that recovery will take years and that we cannot do it alone. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with First Nations, and local and federal governments. We will continue to persevere and work to build back better, together.”