WASHINGTON — A bipartisan coalition of 30 U.S. House members sent an emergency letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan on Thursday, urging him to develop a Canadian contingency plan in the event of a catastrophic flood in the next three to five years.
“A catastrophic Canadian flood will have tragic consequences not only for those directly impacted but also for communities throughout the entire North American region, as well as all Canadians,” the group of lawmakers wrote.
A report last year from Natural Resources Canada estimated that the average potential river flood in B.C. could be as much as 1,500 cubic meters (4,154 gallons) per second for the next 10 years, and up to seven cubic meters (2,440 gallons) per second for the next five years.
Last year, 100 people died when swollen rivers of the Fraser River spilled through their banks. B.C. evacuated about 1,000 homes in the region and took to hauling sandbags and sand across the Pacific Northwest.
About 130 people were displaced when a landslide hit Revelstoke, a town about 145 miles west of Vancouver.
MPs Jack Bergman, a Republican from Washington state, and Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Oregon, co-signed the letter.
Since lawmakers of both parties signed onto the letter, it means that regardless of what President Donald Trump does, there is at least some degree of support in Congress for Canadian disaster plans.
The lawmakers also wrote that they believe Canadian flood-resilience plans should include recovery and repair help that is available in the United States.
“We are deeply concerned that, with the addition of new dikes, even additional efforts to keep water out of the Pacific North West, our southern neighbors could still have catastrophic floods,” the lawmakers wrote.
The issue of environmental disaster relief assistance came to a head when several California Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voiced their support for a supplemental spending bill for California’s $16 billion wildfire bill.
Bergman said, “We are grateful to Rep. Bonamici and other members of Congress across the country that have heard our calls for federal assistance in the face of natural disasters across the continent. We hope that they will join us in urging Canada to develop a contingency plan for another major, simultaneous floods.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other government agencies warned this week that unseasonably high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and northern Canada should be reason for concern.
Researchers at NOAA said that while a near-normal snowpack will put some winter storm clouds over Europe and the North Atlantic, ice and snow are more common in warmer years and the planet is getting warmer. “Such cold- and windstorm showers would typically reach the United States in January, but perhaps in November,” NOAA said.
Similarly, three NOAA climate models had similar results on global sea ice and sea levels.
U.S. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who represents Oregon, noted in a tweet that during the summer months in 2013, he visited communities devastated by last year’s devastating flooding and looked out at the soggy hillsides and sodden streets.
“It’s time for Canada to start thinking of themselves as the other side of the Pacific,” Blumenauer tweeted, “not just the more North American neighbor.”
This article was written by Heather Long from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]