In beautiful British Columbia, disaster has struck

One of the most severe storms on record has brought unprecedented rainfall and flooding, leaving many residents, animals, homes and businesses in B.C. in a state of uncertainty and emergency. Sunday, November 14 brought record-breaking levels of rainfall in Hope, Chilliwack and Abbotsford—and areas around the province are now suffering from flooding, mudslides and other destruction.

Evacuation orders have been issued, forcing thousands out of their homes. Most major routes have been closed or cut off due to the flooding, leaving some vehicles and citizens trapped or stranded, prompting helicopter rescues. Schools and businesses are closed, ferry sailings were cancelled, many services are being forced to adapt to this unexpected disaster. The B.C. government is advising to avoid all travel to evacuated areas and to avoid non-essential travel to areas on alert.

The Coquihalla Highway has suffered massive destruction, completely snapped in two due to surging rivers and flooding. It is unknown when the highway might reopen, but it could take months. In the Lower Mainland, Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford has undergone extensive flooding, and the area has been evacuated, leaving the fate of livestock and properties uncertain. Highway 1, which runs through the Prairie, has been closed, with water completely submerging the area around Whatcom Exit.

People and vehicles have been stranded in Hope due to flooding and mudslides, forced to find shelter or looking for alternate escapes. In Merritt, the entire city of 7,000 has been evacuated due to floodwaters from the Coldwater River. On Vancouver Island, the Malahat Highway just north of Victoria has suffered major flooding, causing extreme congestion and delays. The highway is set to close entirely overnight for up to a week as crews work to repair the damage.

The city of Vancouver saw the storm bring unprecedented displays, including an unmoored barge heading towards the Burrard Bridge and getting stuck on the Seawall amid a raging ocean, resulting in videos that have gone viral, along with footage of patio furniture flying off balconies in the intense winds.

The effects of this most recent storm are devastating and shocking, but make no mistake—this is no coincidence. B.C. already experienced intense heat this past summer, with temperatures reaching up to 49.6 degrees Celsius. The conditions led to catastrophic wildfires, engulfing entire areas of the province, including the town of Lytton. Severe weather conditions are occurring all over the globe and unless drastic action is taken to save the planet, disaster is imminent.Sumas Prairie Flooding in AbbotsfordKellie Paxian

Is this the new normal?

The way the planet is heading, more extreme weather events are unavoidable. From wildfires and heat domes in the summer to floods and severe snowfalls in the winter, our seasons are being pushed to their limits. As fossil fuel emissions continue to cause the climate to warm, all aspects of the global ecosystem are affected and thrown off balance, leading to melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, flooding, droughts and wildfires.

What can you do?

The time to take climate action is now. We must take every measure to live more sustainably, keeping the environment top of mind with every choice we make—from our purchases to our waste disposal to our energy usage to our modes of transportation, and to the organizations, businesses and governments we support.

We must continue to educate ourselves and others and act on climate change—reading and implementing changes based right here on Environment 911 is a great place to start. We must use our voices and actions to push for an eco-friendlier future, now.

Amid these tragic stories, crews are working quickly and relentlessly to repair damage and kind people are stepping up to offer food, shelter and supplies. Please stay safe, stay inside, and help however you can.

If you want to help the victims of these floods, there are number of fundraisers you can support.