Catastrophic economic impact of B.C. floods
The B.C. floods have crippled the flow of cargo in and out of Vancouver ports, further damaging already pandemic-strained supply issues. That presents a huge cost to the local and national economy.
"This supply chain delivers fuel, food, medicine and essential goods to Canadians and supports an agriculture sector that is facing catastrophic impact," said Oman Alghabra, minister of Transport Canada.
Sections of some major connector roads are washed away, bridges are destroyed, Highway 1 east is flooded and sections of the main rail corridors from Vancouver to points east are closed after some lines washed out. Vancouver is cut-off from the rest of the country.
In a statement, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said: "The Vancouver gateway is experiencing significantly disrupted rail and truck movement due to widespread flooding throughout the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions. Despite these impacts, marine terminals at the Port of Vancouver are still operating."
However, the cargo and supply lines could clog up with nowhere for the goods to go and no route in for exports.
Disrupted terminal operations are expected. Around noon on Thursday, there were 33 cargo vessels anchored in Burrard Inlet all the way up to Deep Cove. On Friday morning, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said it had 42 vessels at anchor.
Neither of the country's two rail lines have a timeline when repairs will be complete.
"CN crews continue to make progress on critical repair work following the mud slides and washouts that impacted CN’s rail network in British Columbia. Traffic through southern B.C., northbound and eastbound traffic from Vancouver, as well as inbound traffic to Vancouver from east/north of Kamloops are still affected by the situation," writes Mathieu Gaudreault, CN Railway senior advisor of medial relations.
Canadian Pacific Railway issued a statement saying, "CP's operations between Spences Bridge and Falls Creek, B.C., remain suspended following heavy rains that have resulted in multiple track outages."
"I'm going to use the word catastrophe," said Trevor Heaver, an emeritus professor with the University of B.C.'s Sauder School of Business. "We really don't have any precedent by which to judge the magnitude of the effect."
The supply chain disruption is the perfect storm coming in the wake of pandemic supply issues in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
Vancouver ports export about four times as much goods as imports, but either way the impact on the economy is significant.
"The economic impact of the flooding overall is going to have many ramifications and also for a long time, and it's also going to take a considerable time for our supply chains, import and export, to be able to get back to normal," added Heaver.
He expects it could be well into next year before we begin to see anything resembling normal.