Toronto volunteers assembled more than 400 clean-up kits on Wednesday for B.C. for families affected by severe flooding.
GlobalMedic, a non-governmental organization based in Etobicoke, organized the packing as part of its flood response program. The organization will ship the kits with the help of the Air Canada Foundation.
The kits contain gloves, laundry detergent, disinfectant, garbage bags and cleaning supplies that residents in flooded areas will need when the crisis ends. All of the items were in buckets, which can used to scoop water. Products have been donated by Procter & Gamble.
“These families are in an emergency crisis right now and they need support but they are also going to need support when they go home,” said Jamie Cross, emergency programs manager at GlobalMedic.
The effort comes as B.C. Premier John Horgan declared a province-wide state of emergency on Wednesday. Record-breaking rainfall led to the flooding and caused several mudslides that left hundreds of people in the Lower Mainland stranded or cut off from essential services, closing many highways, streets, and schools in the province’s interior and southern regions. Flooding is now affecting parts of the Fraser Valley.
“I think we’re all caught a little bit off guard by the speed of the flooding, but I think it just shows we need to be prepared. It also shows that communities can really pull together when crises like these happen here in Canada,” Cross said.
GlobalMedic often responds to emergencies abroad but is responding domestically because there is a need for help in B.C., she said, adding the organization tries to support people with the right aid at the right time.
“That time is now for the people in B.C.”
B.C. towns and cities, including Merritt and Princeton, have been evacuated. More than 100 people were rescued from the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford overnight after the city issued urgent pleas to evacuate the area late Tuesday.
Guy Lepage, a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross for 16 years, said any disaster is a reminder that people need to be prepared to shelter in place and that means they need drinking water, canned goods, a can opener, medication and pet food if need be.
“You just never know when something is going to happen. You can watch disasters far away and say: ‘Well, that’s happening over there. I don’t need to worry about it.’ Well, the B.C. floods — it was just a ton of rain in a very short amount of time. That can happen here,” Lepage said.
“You just have to plan ahead and be prepared. You have to be self-sufficient for 72 hours. That’s the bottom line.”
Flooding provides lessons to rest of Canada, expert says
Jason Thistlethwaite, an associate professor in the school of environment at the University of Waterloo, said there are lessons to be learned from the flooding in B.C.
Thistlethwaite said Canadians are under-prepared for climate change, Canada is not doing a good enough job of protecting critical infrastructure, and climate change and extreme weather will have long term economic consequences.
In the case of B.C., critical infrastructure includes highways. All four highways that connect the Lower Mainland with the rest of the province have been closed by landslides and flooding that dumped a month’s worth of rain over two days.
“Canada is a country of extremes in climate but also weather. We get a lot of bad weather in Canada,” he said.
“If you add on climate change, that’s more or less the equivalent of injecting steroids into the Canadian climate. We’re going to see even more of those extremes and they are going to be intense.”
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