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Almost 700,000 animals have died in Canada after torrential rains caused flooding and mudslides in British Columbia (BC).
So far, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture has announced that 420 dairy cows, 12,000 pigs and 628,000 birds have died. In addition, 110 beehives were destroyed, killing around three million bees.
This greatly exceeds the ministry’s initial predictions of several thousand animal deaths.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham called the situation “heartbreaking” at a press conference last week.
“The work of farmers, volunteers and businesses to clean barns and remove them [deceased] the animals continue to be extremely heartbreaking. I ask people to remain empathetic and caring in their comments as they continue to do this very difficult job, ”Popham said.
The number of animal deaths is expected to rise further, as 819 farms are still under evacuation order.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said five feet of water flooded the Sumas Grassland, which is home to 200,000 cattle.
“A lot of these calves… with three to five feet of water these calves drowned. They couldn’t get them out, ”Braun said.
In addition, some animals that have managed to survive will be euthanized due to injuries.
Donation centers have been established to help provide those affected with feed and other supplies, especially as winter approaches.
The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture is working alongside the federal government to develop a stimulus package for farmers, in the hopes that it will help them get back to work.
But hundreds of acres of crops were damaged by the extreme weather event. According to The Guardian, up to 700 acres of blueberry crops are still underwater.
“We are still in the process of quantifying the losses, whether in animal or plant crops, and we hope to strengthen those numbers as the waters recede,” Popham said.
Almost 15,000 people were forced to leave their homes during the floods. In addition, more than 4,000 properties are still subject to evacuation orders.
Blake Shaffer is Professor of Economics at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. At Twitter, Shaffer warned that the flooding will prove “by far the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.”