British Columbia storm: Troops to help thousands stranded by floods

Canadian province may face shortage of key supplies due to panic buying and supply chain disruption

Stuti Mishra
Friday 19 November 2021 14:00
<p>Cows that were stranded in a flooded barn are rescued by people in boats after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia</p>

Cows that were stranded in a flooded barn are rescued by people in boats after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia

Canadian soldiers have been deployed in British Columbia to help emergency crews after a storm and floods have left thousands of people stranded in what is one of the country’s worst natural disasters.

A state of emergency was declared in Canada’s westernmost province after heavy flooding and mudslides forced 18,000 people from their homes, and destroyed roads, railways and farms cutting several areas off from the capital Vancouver and the rest of the country. At least one person has died, as well as thousands of farm animals.

Ottawa has promised to send hundreds of air force personnel to British Columbia, the first of whom have already arrived. Thousands more are on standby.

While rescue operations are still underway in several areas as the floodwater recedes, pictures on social media showed empty shelves in several stores as the threat of the situation worsening has triggered panic buying in the province and disruptions in supply chains.

Some areas of the province are expected to face a shortage of essential supplies, according to Reuters. The supply chain is suffering due to the destruction caused by the recent storm, according to industry associations.

Save-On-Foods, western Canada’s largest grocery retailer, appealed to customers to avoid hoarding. “We understand that this is a very stressful and challenging time for many of our communities,” the company said on Twitter. “Please — buy only what your family needs at this time.”

A police car was spotted escorting a convoy of four Save-On-Foods delivery vans through a roadblock on Highway 7 to reach the stranded town of Hope, after the road was hit by mudslides, according to a witness.

“In parts of the province, particularly the interior, there has been significant and not well-understood consumer panic,” Greg Wilson, director of British Columbia (BC) government relations for the Retail Council of Canada, said. “There are highways open between BC and Alberta and there is capacity in Alberta to supply the interior of BC.”

While water is receding, the rescuers are carrying out relief operations in difficult mountainous areas. The recovery is expected to cost Canada a massive one billion Canadian dollars, according to an estimate by the mayor of Abbotsford.

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