Canada floods: British Columbia limits fuel purchases and non-essential travel restricted after torrential rains and mudslides

The amount of fuel people can buy will be limited and non-essential travel restricted in a Canadian province following torrential rains and mudslides.

The British Columbia (BC) government said was imposing the measures as highways began to reopen following extreme weather, which prompted it to declare a state of emergency.

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said non-essential vehicles would be limited to around 30 litres per trip to the petrol station, in an order expected to last until December.

“These steps will keep commercial traffic moving, stabilise our supply chains and make sure everyone gets home safely,” he told a news conference.

“We are asking people not to travel through severely affected areas for their own well-being, but also to make sure the fuel we do have goes toward the services people need in this time of crisis.”

Environment Canada says 24 communities in the province experienced close to 100 millimetres of rain from last Saturday to Monday.

Mr Farnworth said police would not patrol gas stations to make sure customers are complying with the new rules.

“The majority of British Columbians will do the right thing,” he said.

“If we are greedy, we will fail. It’s that’s simple.”

The government also has prohibited non-essential travel on sections of several roads.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said vehicles transporting essential products or delivering vital services could use the highways, as can people returning to their principle residences after being stranded.

“It is not open to recreational or non-essential travel,” he said.

Thousands of farm animals have been killed or left trapped by the flooding, but the region’s agriculture minister urged caution among farmers.

“I don’t think that any of us can really understand the pain that these farmers are feeling right now as they’re being kept away from their animals,” Lana Popham told CBC.

“We’ve got animals that haven’t had food and water for days. There’s farmers that know they need to get back in just even to deal with euthanisation issues. And so it’s a desperate situation and it’s painful.

“But there are really dangerous situations right now with the roadways. And so we are not encouraging farmers to cross into those dangerous areas, although we completely understand why they’re doing it.”

One death due to the flooding and landslides has been reported so far, but details of one man’s fortunate escape have emerged after he recounted the dramatic incident.

Global BC cameraman Mike Timbrell said he was driving along a mountain highway towards Vancouver during the storm on Monday.

After stopping behind a line of cars that appeared to have been halted by a rockslide, he said a wall of snow and mud came crashing down from above, toppling trees and engulfing drivers who had got out of their cars.

“My truck was moving all over, getting hammered by trees. I thought I was a goner,” he said.

He said he escaped from his car and began running when he landslide stopped

“I turned around and looked at my truck and it was half-buried and all the cars that were on the road and all the people, they were just gone. Gone,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was almost like – in the blink of an eye – there were roads, there were cars, there was people, and then bang, everything was gone, just gone. Not a sign of a car, not a wheel, just trees and mud. It was all you could see.”

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