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Flood costs in millions and still rising

The costs of last year’s floods in the Pemberton and Squamish Valley are still being calculated a year later.

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The highest price was paid by the four people who lost their lives when a bridge was washed out by over 300,000 tonnes of debris and the flood-swollen waters of the Rutherford Creek.

The destruction of that same bridge cut off the village of Pemberton from supplies and help and the town itself came within centimetres of being flooded.

At least 800 people in Squamish, Pemberton and Mount Currie were evacuated during the course of the worst rainfall flood seen in decades with about 140 homes severely damaged by floodwaters.

According to Ministry of the Solicitor General the total cost to date for Sea to Sky corridor damage is about $13.6 million.

About $10.2 million of that is for provincial repairs at about 105 sites. The largest portion of that cost, $7 million, is for the replacement of the Rutherford Creek Bridge.

Local government claims total about $2.1 million and there have been 306 homeowner and small business damage claims to date totalling about $1.3 million.

The first $4 million of the cost must be covered by the provincial government. Anything more than that – up to $20 million – is split 50-50 with the federal government.

CN Rail is also facing millions in repair costs to B.C. Rail bridges and rail lines.

And the costs for the Mt. Currie First Nations community, a federal responsibility, are still coming in but are expected to be over $1 million.

Mt. Currie Chief Leonard Andrew was to meet with federal officials this week to discuss the state of dyking in and around his community.

To date it appears as if the senior levels of government have been dragging their feet he said.

"If we are not floating down the river then they are not going to help us," said Andrew.

"This has been addressed in a study by the province and federal government, but the issue is the investment is huge, about $18 to $20 million."

The devastation has prompted calls for the government to once again look at how it is responding to the long-term threat of significant floods in B.C.

"We really see there being a need for a longer term funding program to assist the dyking districts and the local governments in managing the dyking system," said Steve Litke, program manager of the Fraser Basin Flood Hazard management program.

One issue is that dyking infrastructure, like much of the infrastructure across Canada, is getting old and not receiving the type of up keep that it needs, he said.

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