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British Columbia faces floods after a month's worth of rain fell in two days


British Columbia is bracing for more flooding and landslides as another so-called atmospheric river brings more heavy rain. The province is still recovering from the last deluge two weeks ago. That's when a month's worth of rain fell over two days and left much of the region flooded or isolated and thousands of people stranded. Reporter Emma Jacobs joins us now from Abbotsford, British Columbia. Emma, thanks so much for being with us.

EMMA JACOBS, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: And when is this next band of rain expected?

JACOBS: Heavy rains are going to begin in southern British Columbia today and expected to continue for several days. The forecast is that as much rain is going to fall as in that initial storm that did so much damage but spread out over several days. The thing is that the ground is still so saturated, though. It's harder to know what to expect.

SIMON: Canadian military has been called in. What have they been doing to try and strengthen flood defenses?

JACOBS: The military has been helping with sandbagging homes and also with reinforcing some of the flood works that breached and flooded the Sumas Prairie region here. It's an agricultural area where the initial flooding had trapped thousands of animals - cows and chickens and horses. And you had these really incredible images of farmers evacuating some of the animals through deep floodwaters on boats and jet skis. The soldiers have also been helping to clear away some of the debris that floodwaters have left behind in some of the areas where they've receded and to clear roadways.

SIMON: Emma, how are residents facing the prospect of yet more rain and flooding?

JACOBS: It's a little bit wait and see. In Abbotsford, the mayor is concerned this new rainfall could test the floodwaters and pumps again. Some of that water may actually flow from just south of here, in Washington state. It's really a cross-border issue. So people are being encouraged to prepare evacuation bags again in case there is more flooding. The other thing is, even if they can keep the water contained, the more rain, the longer it's going to take to pump water out of already flooded areas. In Sumas Prairie, the pumps can only redirect a couple of inches a day. So this slows down a process that's already expected to take weeks.

SIMON: I gather Prime Minister Trudeau has visited the area. What has he said?

JACOBS: Yeah. Trudeau was here yesterday. He visited Abbotsford and then Vancouver Island and held a press conference there with the premier of the province yesterday evening. He committed to providing financial support.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We will be here for whatever is needed. We need to rebuild. We need to rebuild more resilient infrastructure that's going to be able to handle hundred-year storms every few years, because that seems to be the pattern we're on.

SIMON: Emma, are people in British Columbia drawing a link between these events under their feet and climate change?

JACOBS: Yeah, you can here both the experts and the politicians like Trudeau noting that climate change is expected to make storms like these more intense. And for the people who live here, this is an area that gets a lot of rain. They're used to occasional flooding and even landslides that close roads. But people still say the scale of the damage was different than what they've seen before. And many do link that to climate change.

SIMON: Reporter Emma Jacobs, reporting from British Columbia, thanks so much.

JACOBS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.