Hundreds of thousands of livestock have perished in floodwaters in Canada’s westernmost province, the British Columbia government said Thursday.
Back-to-back deluges from atmospheric rivers have damaged major transport routes, forced evacuations and briefly isolated Canada’s biggest port. The agricultural region of Sumas Prairie, near the nation’s third-largest city, Vancouver, is one of the hardest hit flood zones.
So far, 628,000 poultry have been reported dead, as well as 420 dairy cattle and roughly 12,000 hogs. Additionally, 110 bee hives were submerged. More than 800 farms remain under evacuation orders, Lana Popham, the province’s minister of agriculture, food and fisheries, told reporters on Thursday.
“The work by farmers and volunteers and companies to clean out barns and remove those animals continues to be extremely heartbreaking,” Popham said.
Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow funnels of tropical moisture that release enormous volumes of precipitation when they make landfall.
Sumas Prairie is also home to around 700 acres of blueberry farms, many of which have been under 8 feet (2.4 meters) of water. The full extent of the damage to the blueberry crop probably won’t be known for months.
Photograph: Flooded farmland in the Sumas Prairie near Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Photo credit: James MacDonald/Bloomberg