British Columbia's transportation minister says crews are working "non-stop" to repair an estimated 200 highway sites that were damaged or destroyed by washouts in the province's Interior and south coast, but upcoming severe weather could worsen existing flooding or cause more of it.
Rob Fleming said people should prepare for two more storms expected to hit the province on Saturday and Tuesday following a major atmospheric river that devastated some communities where essential supplies are being delivered by air.
"There is an increased risk of landslides that accompanies this weather prediction and power outages are possible from the winds that we're expecting as well," Fleming said Friday, adding anyone who doesn't need to travel should plan to stay home.
The risk of more flooding from the overflowing Nooksack River in Washington is possible on Sunday, he said. In earlier storms, the river flooded the Sumas Prairie area of Abbotsford, where thousands of livestock have died and farms have been inundated with water.
"Information that we've received from Whatcom County has indicated that the diking system along the Nooksack does have damage from last week. They're actively working on repairs to that. We're obviously watching that very closely."
Some highways may be closed in advance of harsh weather based on forecasting by Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fleming said.
Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with the agency, said a so-called red level alert has been issued due to expected heavy rainfall starting on the weekend and intensifying on Tuesday.
He said snowmelt could add to flooding as part of a "cascading hazard" after a major atmospheric river dumped record amounts of rain that has already caused major mudslides in parts of B.C.
"These are extraordinary times," Castellan said.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she's pleased Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was touring the flooded area of Abbotsford on Friday to witness the destruction that has affected the livelihood of farmers.
"I don't think you can understand the difficulties that these farmers are facing without really speaking to them and so he will get a very good idea of the problems," she said.
"I think that his visit will give farmers confidence that the federal government understands the needs that we'll have and the ask that we'll be putting forward."
Flooding also forced the evacuation of the city of Merritt and left low-lying sections of the Abbotsford-Chilliwack area, the heartland of B.C.'s poultry, egg and dairy industries, under more that two metres of water.
Six people have been killed or are missing.
Some evacuees in Abbotsford and Merritt were allowed to return to their homes earlier this week and officials in Merritt said more people from that southern Interior city would be permitted to head home Saturday.
Trans Mountain Corp. said Thursday that work to restart a key oil pipeline has been delayed.
It said plans to resume operation of the Trans Mountain pipeline between the Edmonton area and Burnaby, B.C., have changed.
"With the continued deterioration of weather conditions in the region in the coming days, Trans Mountain is closely monitoring the situation to ensure our crews can continue to progress safely," the statement said.
A day earlier, the company said it was optimistic it could restart the pipeline at a reduced capacity by the end of the week, moving crude oil to a refinery that is the main supplier of gasoline products for Metro Vancouver.
The pipeline remained "safely in a static condition," the company said, as more than 400 workers and 100 pieces of equipment were on repair duties.
"Our focus has shifted to complete repairs to ensure integrity of the line where it has been exposed and impacted by flooding and debris," Trans Mountain said on its website.
A lack of crude oil forced the Parkland refinery in Burnaby to pause operations until the pipeline reopens and the closure, along with other supply chain issues, prompted the provincial government to impose fuel rationing for Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine coast, limiting drivers to 30 litres per visit to a gas station.
The federal government and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said they are working together to address supply chain disruptions, with Ottawa contributing up to $4.1 million to ease bottlenecks at Vancouver ports.
Fleming said Highway 3 has been designated for commercial trucks and anyone still returning to their primary residence in the Interior.
"It has played a vital role in the movement of goods and getting our supply chain back up and running," he said. "About 4,000 commercial trucks now have traversed that corridor, moving the goods and supplies that we need in communities across our province.