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A farm manager who asked not to be identified by name removes damaged items after floodwaters filled the lower floor of a house the family rents on a farm, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 23.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

British Columbia is offering $2,000 in emergency funding to the thousands of families pushed out of their homes by the past week’s floods and mudslides, as people in the southwestern part of the province prepare for more heavy rain this week.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the financial assistance at a flood briefing Tuesday, adding that the grants are being rolled out in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and will not affect the provincial emergency assistance that people may already be receiving.

He did not say how many households are eligible, but more than 6,500 evacuees have registered so far for existing provincial support of the estimated 17,000 who fled their homes when the storm, known as an atmospheric river, touched down on Nov. 14. Mr. Farnworth also announced funds to help postsecondary students at the University of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford, and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, in Merritt, whose lives have been upended by flooding in those communities.

With another stream of subtropical moisture expected to hit the province from the Pacific Ocean Thursday, the number of people needing emergency assistance could rise.

“This will impact already-soaked lands and waterways,” Mr. Farnworth said of the forecasted precipitation. “The next nine or 10 days could be quite challenging.”

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said at a separate briefing Tuesday afternoon repairs to four main areas of his agricultural community’s damaged dike system should stop more mass flooding this week.

Still, he asked people staying in their homes in flood-prone areas to be prepared with enough food, water and clothes to last three days. People should also have flashlights and park their cars where they can be accessed easily if they need to escape, he said.

“While we continue to clean up from the devastation left by the last weather event, we are actively preparing for the next atmospheric river forecasted for this week,” Mr. Braun said.

‘The end of normal’: From summer fires to catastrophic floods, recurring tragedy unites B.C.

About 120 Canadian Forces soldiers and a number of local contractors have almost completed repairs to the dikes, Mr. Braun said, but those stretches constitute less than 1 per cent of the whole system and vulnerabilities remain because engineers could not view some sections that were still underwater.

Large parts of the Sumas Prairie – where a massive lake was located before it was drained a century ago to create verdant farmland – remained off limits to farmers Tuesday, with the roofs of two-storey barns barely above the pooling water in the centre of the plain.

Meanwhile, waters had receded enough in the southern Interior city of Merritt for authorities there to begin the first of three steps to get some 7,000 evacuated people back into their homes. About 1,500 residents were set to be welcomed back Tuesday afternoon, with certain properties remaining on evacuation alert and under a boil-water advisory.

What you are coming home to is a city that’s changed,’’ Mayor Linda Brown said in a post on the city’s website. “You will be asked to put as little sewage as possible down the drain, as we cannot process it.

“You will be asked to use as little water as possible to preserve supplies for the fire department, and you will not have an operational hospital.”

Merritt was ordered evacuated on Nov. 15 as the Coldwater River burst its banks and overwhelmed the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The plant is now accepting sewage but can’t treat it, so raw sewage is being released into the river while further repairs are made, Ms. Brown said. Details of the second phase of the return plan are expected by Thursday.

As the next wave of wet weather approaches B.C., some communities are still scrambling to get vital fuel and food as supply chain troubles, including a precautionary closure of the Trans Mountain pipeline, have led to shortages.

The picture in Metro Vancouver should improve with Canadian Pacific Railway set to reopen its line between Kamloops and Vancouver by Tuesday, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming told reporters. CP said it would work closely with customers and terminals to clear backlogs and get freight moving efficiently again.

Canadian National issued a statement saying it plans to restore limited service over flood-affected track by Wednesday “barring any unforeseen issues.”

Terry Teegee, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said more than 100 First Nations have been affected by the flooding and landslides and several are waiting for resources to be helicoptered in.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu has announced that Ottawa will provide $4.4-million in funding to the First Nations Emergency Services Society in B.C.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair refused to speculate Tuesday on how much Canada, the province and municipalities could end up spending in the wake of the flooding.

“Right now we are in the process of recovery, and the rebuild will start,” Mr. Blair said during a brief scrum with reporters in Ottawa. “I don’t want to sort of assign an arbitrary figure to it, but we know that this is such a substantial investment in rebuilding critical infrastructure as a result of the floods.”

Climate Scientist and Professor Simon Donner explains what the phenomenon 'atmospheric river' is and why the one that hit Western Canada dumped record breaking amounts of rain in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

With a report from Bill Curry in Ottawa and The Canadian Press

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