In November 2021, BC was hit hard by atmospheric river events that caused devastating floods and deadly mudslides.
The province declared a state of emergency and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was brought in to help.
If you’ve been curious about how exactly the armed forces have been at work in BC helping during the flooding, then this will give you a glimpse into what they’ve been up to on the ground and in the air.
- You might also like:
- Aerial footage captures extent of flood devastation on Trans Canada Hwy in BC (PHOTOS)
- 628,000 poultry, 12,000 hogs, and 420 cows died in BC floods: Ministry
- Is our emergency preparation system flawed? Criticism growing on BC's flood response failures
Lieutenant Commander Tony Wright with the CAF told Daily Hive that Emergency Management BC (EMBC) has been responsible for prioritizing tasks for the 726 personnel from the RCAF, RCN, and Canadian Army assigned to Operation LENTUS 21-06 BC Floods.
The province asked for assistance for a time period of November 17 to December 17, 2021.
When the province decides it no longer requires the armed forces’ help, then they’ll redeploy to their home units.
The CAF has liaison officers in each activated emergency coordination and operations centre, working in tandem to support EMBC.
“Our primary objective is to help provincial and local authorities stabilize the situation and to reassure British Columbia residents in the affected areas,” said Commander Wright.
Here are the tasks that they were assigned by EMBC:
- Delivered food and supplies, including 69,000 lbs of flood response equipment including sandbags, sandbag machines, and HESCO bastion barriers.
- Conducted sandbagging to protect critical infrastructures, like the Barrowtown Pump Station and rail lines.
- Conducted culvert clearance.
- Helped in the construction of tiger dams.
- Dike inspections.
- Conducted reconnaissance and rapid damage assessments.
- Evacuated British Columbians from dangerous areas, most notably 300 people, 26 dogs, and a cat from Highway 7 when they were trapped on the roadway by mudslides on November 14.
- Evacuated 30,000 chickens from a poultry operation that had lost power.
- Transported 24,000 lbs of Red Cross supplies from Calgary to Abbotsford.
- Transported EMBC and medical staff by air when land routes were blocked by flooding.
So far, here’s a list of the communities, villages, townships, and First Nations that CAF provided direct support to:
- Cowichan First Nation (Vancouver Island)
- Halalt First Nation (Vancouver Island)
- Wsanec Fist Nation (Vancouver Island)
- Pentiwoctoc First Nation (Vancouver Island)
- Boston Bar First Nation
- Chawathil First Nation
- Skawahlook First Nation
- Spences Bridge
- Clayburn Village
Derek Gagnon, Public Affairs Officer with EMBC, told Daily Hive that “EMBC, the First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS), First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) collaborated to support food and supplies delivery, including medications, into First Nations communities by air or by ground, depending on access into these communities.”
The CAF has also been complemented by civilian aircraft, coordinated by EMBC.
“For example, flying community members in to retrieve cultural items or flying medical staff into stranded communities to provide services to community members,” said Gagnon.
Take a look at the photos to see the CAF in action: