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BC’s Provincial State of Emergency: From Floods to Fires

We continue to hear that human-driven climate change is resulting in more extreme weather events. We anticipate climate change to bring about more environmental extremes, but have we done enough to truly prepare for these changes?

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Today, our fellow British Columbians are experiencing these very climate extremes. Earlier this summer, a wet start to the season caused severe flooding and mudslides in communities in B.C.’s Southern Interior, such as the Central Okanagan.

The flooding was reminiscent of the rampant flooding across the Kootenay region and parts of the Fraser Valley in 2012, when nearly 700 British Columbians were forced to evacuate their homes to avoid dangers posed by rising floodwaters.

The unusually wet season was followed by extremely hot and dry weather--conditions that have facilitated the spread of wildfires. As wildfires ignited near communities throughout the BC interior, over 40,000 people have already been evacuated. The BC government was forced to call the first provincial state of emergency in almost 15 years. Kevin Shrepnek, BC’s fire Chief of Information has called the situation “fluid and volatile.” He told the Globe and Mail, “the fact that we declared a state of emergency across the province speaks to how serious this situation is.”

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