Province announces financial support as BC Liberals call for emergency debate on disaster response

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People whose homes, properties or businesses were affected by severe flooding this week are now eligible for financial assistance from the province.

In a statement released Thursday, Emergency Management BC said disaster financial assistance is available to homeowners, residential tenants, small business owners, farmers and charities who are unable to afford it. get insurance to cover disaster losses.

Financial assistance covers anyone living on Vancouver Island, in southwestern and central British Columbia, as well as all Indigenous communities and local governments whose infrastructure has been damaged as a result of recent floods.

The deadline to request help is February 12, 2022.

Emergency debate on disaster response

British Columbia’s Liberals on Thursday called for an emergency debate on the government’s response to severe flooding that devastated much of the southern part of the province.

“There are some very serious questions that need to be answered about what went wrong in terms of the lack of warning, especially for the people and farmers of Sumas Prairie,” said Mike de Jong, the Liberal MP. from British Columbia for Abbotsford West on CBC. The first edition.

During Question Period, Leader of the Opposition Shirley Bond asked Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth why residents were not warned beforehand of the looming danger that caused the flooding and large-scale landslides.

A partially flooded street in West Abbotsford on November 18, 2021 (Carly Thomas / CBC)

“When British Columbians were overwhelmed over the weekend … the Prime Minister’s response was disappointing,” she said, “as if her government had absolutely no idea what happening in the province. “

Farnworth said the province did “significant work” over the weekend when unprecedented amounts of rain hit southern British Columbia in just 48 hours.

“I can tell you that DriveBC was updated regularly, notifications of debit advice were provided to local communities, flood warnings were issued and, at the same time, crews were working on occupy potential problem areas, ”he said.

Farnworth said that as extreme events like this occur more frequently due to climate change, the province will take what happened and learn from it.

Bond and other members of the opposition party asked the Minister of Public Safety about the lack of notice, asking why Americans were given 48 hours more notice than farmers and residents of the Sumas Prairie.

“Washington state declared a state of emergency for extreme weather on Monday. British Columbia took two more days,” said Todd Stone, Liberal MP for Kamloops-South Thompson.

“This government is failing when it comes to sharing critical information with British Columbians during a looming emergency.”

He reminded the minister that the province is the only jurisdiction in British Columbia that can send a mandatory SMS warning through the Alert Ready system.

Fallen trees and debris are pictured Monday after flooding swept through the area near Lillooet, British Columbia. One person killed after landslide swept through Highway 99, RCMP say (British Columbia Ministry of Transportation / Reuters)

Alert Ready is a pan-Canadian system that allows government officials in every province and territory to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters, as well as compatible wireless devices.

Farnworth said the province is working on a coordinated system with local communities and first responders to ensure the Alert Ready system does not interfere with other local warning systems or cause unnecessary panic.

“We will be using the Alert Ready system from the central interior next spring and summer, but we’ll make sure it’s done right.”

He also said the province is working closely with the retail sector to ensure goods and services will be available to those who need them.

“In many parts of this province, transportation routes are not affected. From Kamloops, for example, the railroad goes all the way east, ”he said. . “

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