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EDITORIAL: California floods reminiscent of similar destruction in B.C.

Natural disasters in British Columbia have been costly
Highway 3 east of Princeton was flooded during the atmospheric river event in late 2021. Photo Marcie Anne Roberts

For those living in Princeton, Merritt, Abbotsford and other areas affected by the atmospheric river event in late 2021, the extreme storms pummelling northern California are too familiar.

Strong winds have downed trees and power lines, and communities have been affected by flooding. The flood emergency is happening in a state already hit by an ongoing severe drought.

The intensity of the recent California storms is similar to the atmospheric river events in British Columbia, where some communities are still rebuilding from the damage, more than a year later.

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While California is separate from British Columbia, both regions have been hit with extreme weather events in recent years.

British Columbia has endured severe climate events in the past few years, including the atmospheric river which caused flooding in late 2021, record-breaking hot weather during a heat dome in the early summer of 2021, spring flooding, droughts and extreme wildfire seasons.

Extreme weather events are happening more frequently than in the past and each time they happen, there is a cost from the destruction.

Shortly after the atmospheric river flooding devastated British Columbia communities, the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the event had caused $450 million in damages.

The province’s 2021 wildfire season, the third worst on record, cost $718.8 million for wildfire suppression efforts alone.

This does not include the costs of rebuilding after the damages from the fire season.

While 2022 did not have the same intensity of extreme weather events, there is no guarantee that the coming season will be free of intense storms, fires, floods or droughts.

Preparations, including disaster relief plans, are already in place in many communities.

These measures are important if some of the severe weather incidents of past years will occur again in the future.

Still, even with preparations and plans in place, an extreme weather event can result in massive damage.

Learning to cope with the increasing likelihood of such events will be an ongoing challenge.

– Black Press

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