200 millimetres doesn't sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but it was a quick lesson in what climate extremes are doing to our province as it rained and then rained some more across BC. As of midday today, Premier Horgan has declared a Provincial State of Emergency.
The power outages, damage to homes and businesses, mudslides, road and bridge washouts, and even isolation due to evacuations, are the most visible problems. Insurance companies are already touting this as the largest natural catastrophic disaster for the insurance industry in 2021.
What is yet to be fully assessed is another delay in our already hard hit supply chain and the costs around delayed goods. The Port of Vancouver is assessing that the turnaround on imported goods may be nearly doubled from 2 days or less to as much as 5 days. Rob Reilly, Canadian National Railway Co.’s chief operating officer, said the heavy rain has made the tracks impassable at “a number of locations in southern B.C.” CN has been working above and beyond, using helicopters to deliver supplies as needed. Truck transportation is similarly impacted, even as alternating traffic patterns are restored. The request has been made that non-essential travel be suspended at this time. Here on the lower island, several gas stations are out of fuel.
Closures on major island transportation corridors — such as the Malahat and Sooke Road — have also resulted in workforce and supply chain disruptions. As always, in the midst of crisis, we have seen extraordinary efforts from the people of BC. Our first responders and emergency crews — and soon our military — have been working day and night to get our province back on its feet and on our roads. BC Ferries has added extra sailings to get goods to the island and to help reconnect our communities.
The provincial and federal government have committed to get transportation links up and running in order to keep people and goods in our province moving.