Canada rail, road links cut by floods, mudslides reestablished

 In an aerial view, floodwaters surround homes and farms on November 20, 2021 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following record rainfall earlier this week that has resulted in widespread flooding of farms, landslides and the evacuation of residents. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — Vital road and rail links between Vancouver and the rest of Canada that were severed by catastrophic floods and mudslides were mostly reestablished Monday, said officials.

Air Canada has also significantly increased its cargo capacity into and out of the Pacific coastal city since Sunday to ease major supply chain disruptions.

Torrential rains hit the region last week, causing widespread flooding and mudslides that damaged or destroyed roads and bridges, forced thousands to evacuate their homes and left at least four dead and one missing.

Authorities have had to ration fuel and urge locals not to hoard food as the province struggles with storm-related supply difficulties.

“Essential goods and services are moving again,” British Columbia’s transportation minister, Rob Fleming, told a news conference.

The province’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, however, warned of more rain and “further storms in the coming weeks.”

“It’s been just over a week since one of the worst natural disasters to hit our province. Our response is still ongoing and will be for quite some time,” he said.

Some areas expect snow Monday and Tuesday, which could reach 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inches), according to Environment Canada.

Two out of three highways into Vancouver (Highways 7 and 99) have been cleared of debris and reopened for essential travel.

The main Trans-Canada highway, however, remains flooded east of the city near Chilliwack, Fleming said, urging British Columbians to “only travel if it’s absolutely essential.”

Canadian Pacific said it expects to reopen its main rail line between Vancouver and Kamloops on Tuesday, as it continues “working with customers to get the supply chain back in sync” and with the port of Vancouver to clear a backlog of container shipments.

Air Canada said it has repurposed 28 passenger flights to carry cargo, in addition to 13 all-cargo flights, to move mail and perishables such as seafood, as well as automotive parts and other industrial goods.

“The additional (cargo) capacity is equivalent in weight to approximately 860 adult moose,” or 586 tonnes, the airline said in a statement.

The extreme weather came after British Columbia province suffered record-high temperatures over the summer that killed more than 500 people, as well as wildfires that destroyed a town.

© Agence France-Presse