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First members of military contingent arrive in B.C. to assist with flood recovery

Troops will assemble and deploy once the advance team and province determine where they are needed
Stranded vehicles are seen where a mudslide happened earlier in the week on Highway 7 west of Agassiz, B.C., Wednesday, November 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A handful of Armed Forces members have arrived in British Columbia, the first of what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said could be several hundred troops as the federal government moves to help the province recover from devastating floods.

The Canadian Joint Operations Command says nine members of the Edmonton-based 3 Canadian Division Immediate Response Unit arrived in B.C. overnight to start scoping out the scene before planning and co-ordinating ongoing relief efforts in earnest.

Other troops have been put on high alert and will start to assemble and deploy into the area once the advance team and provincial government determine where they are needed most.

At the same time, a C-130 Hercules is on its way from CFB Trenton while one helicopter from CFB Edmonton and another from CFB Esquimalt are on standby.

The military will provide both air and land support for critical provincial supply chains and in evacuation and rescue efforts.

Premier John Horgan has declared a state of emergency in response to flooding and landslides that began Sunday after record rainfall drenched much of southern B.C. for more than 48 hours.

Horgan says travel restrictions will be introduced to ensure essential goods and medical and emergency services can reach communities.

Defence Minister Anita Anand says more troops will be sent to help the hardest-hit communities.

Crews will continue to search through debris left by landslides along Highway 99 near Lillooet and Highway 7 near Agassiz to determine if any vehicles were caught underneath.

One person is confirmed dead in a landslide that swept vehicles off a road near Pemberton and the search continues for more victims, while flooding has left much of the Fraser Valley under water.

No bodies were recovered Wednesday, but at least two people are still reported missing.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says thousands of farm animals died when parts of the Fraser Valley flooded, and efforts are underway to develop routes to allow veterinarians to access farms and treat what livestock may have survived.

—The Canadian Press

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