British Columbia Braces For More Flooding Just One Week After Devastating Storm

Torrential rains and subsequent floods from a persistent atmospheric river besieged British Columbia last week, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in the west coast Canadian province. The flooding was so severe that Vancouver was isolated by a combination of mudslides and erosion, making it impossible to exit or enter the metropolitan area.

And now, on the heels of this already devastating weather event, British Columbia is preparing for more heavy rainfall from yet another atmospheric river.

Although this forthcoming storm is expected to be less intense than the previous one, British Columbia has barely had time to recover from the flooding. So, the incumbent storm — which is expected to arrive Wednesday night and continue through the weekend — will likely exacerbate ongoing flooding and washouts. It will likely increase the number of displaced residents, which approached 18,000 individuals last week and disproportionately impacted First Nations communities that predominantly exist in rural areas.

These severe rainfall events come after a scorching summer with record-shattering heatwaves — such extreme weather events are hallmarks of climate change that have occurred as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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Climate experts are calling for improvements to infrastructure to better able to tolerate floods. A recent report by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC) found that flooding damage could annually cost CA$13 billion by 2100, if updates are not made.

Some federal projects are underway, including a dike in the waterfront community of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac that was impacted by flooding in 2019. But, the dike is controversial because it obstructs views of the town’s iconic lake, hinting at the fact that climate change mitigation / adaptation measures will continue to clash with people’s expectations for their standards of living.

According to engineer and CICC research director, Ryan Ness, “Infrastructure decisions in Canada are not accounting for a changing climate.”

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