The B.C. government has secured supplies of animal feed and has reached some poultry barns in the flood-damaged Fraser Valley, with trucks getting through where water has receded, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says.
Popham and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth briefly joined an emergency debate in the B.C. legislature Thursday, in between conference calls with mayors dealing with floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains over last weekend.
An airlift of cattle feed is being arranged for dairy farms in Sumas Prairie as flood water continues to pour in from the Nooksack River in Washington, Popham said.
“We know the next step is getting feed to those particular barns,” Popham told the legislature Nov. 18. “We have secured feed. We know many areas that are willing to send us feed right now, including feed that was secured at the Port of Vancouver that was on its way to China. It looks like we may be able to reverse that and get it back into the Fraser Valley.”
After opposition critics recounted the information gaps and problems left over from the intense forest fire season, Popham called for information from affected areas. For those who want to donate or need help, she urged people to call Emergency Management B.C. at 1-800-663-3456.
Farnworth said community leaders in the North, Interior and Vancouver Island were relieved to hear supply chains are open to those regions.
“They wanted to know what they could do, which is to amplify the message to the private sector what government is doing, which is those supply chains are in place and that people do not need to hoard and that people are working as hard as they can to get supplies to them,” Farnworth said.
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, who has been calling for months for a plan for displaced Lytton residents whose community burned in late June, said her region has been “ground zero” for disasters. Merritt has been evacuated due to flooding and every part of the region was affected by wildfires this summer, she said.
Tegart summed up the problem as “the lack of government support and leadership, waiting for action, the need for support for local leaders, the displaced people who have moved numerous times, including those who were in Merritt during the flood and have had to move again. The desperate requests for planning and for information-sharing and transparency.”
Farnworth said Tegart has raised important points, and reiterated that B.C. expects to have the national Alert Ready phone text warning system functioning by next spring.
“But most importantly, the fundamental way in which we deal with emergencies in this province does have to change,” Farnworth said. “That’s why we’re doing this significant rewrite of the Emergency Program Act so that we are able to deal with these significantly better.”