BC Floods: How We Handle Natural Disasters

January 5, 2022

Crisis Response image

Our Crisis Response to the BC Flood

As freight consumers, sometimes it’s hard to imagine how freight really gets where you need it, especially during the recent BC Floods. The focus is often on how quickly a freight shipment will get somewhere, instead of how it will get there safely.  Let’s give you some context. In November 2021, a horrible rainstorm took over the Lower Mainland. The result was catastrophic.

What Happened?

The cities of Merritt and Abbotsford were flooded over, and mudslides destroyed some of our major highways to get in and out of the Lower Mainland and other parts of BC and Alberta. This catastrophe is now known as the BC Flood, or BC Storm. There was an estimated $450 million in damage, and as of this blog post date, people are still struggling to get back to normal. The BC Minister of Transportation, Mike Farnworth, says that the BC Flood was the worst storm of the century for the province, and a state of emergency was declared.

BC Flood images from Gov't of BC

Pictures from the Government of BC website showing the devastation of the BC Floods.

Battling Mother Nature

While there are some general safeguards in place for traditional circumstances that freight carriers deal with that may disrupt service, there is no actual protocol for “the worst of storms.” Nobody could have been entirely ready for this. Jennifer Dunn, VP of Sales at Van Kam, says “Companies always try and be prepared for disasters. But this one… and the extent of the damages throughout our entire province – caught everyone in BC off guard.” The ramifications were felt globally by all types of businesses and their customers… just ask Japanese consumers how their cravings for McDonald’s french-fries have been going!

All Hands on Deck

We deal with highway closures due to natural disasters like the BC Flood by holding daily meetings and researching how the current road closures are affecting freight pick-up times and deliveries. We know freight is delayed, but most of our customers understand that even though we try our hardest, we must appropriately deal with the weather and government-sanctioned road restrictions. Regardless, after our meetings, we send the daily road closure updates to our customers and post them on our website to keep them up to date on significant service changes. While these may be frustrating times, rest assured that our customer service team is working diligently to give you personal updates on your freight as you need them. Our entire team is working diligently to develop solutions to keep the supply chains flowing.

Some Key Takeaways

We want to reiterate during these times that we also must prioritize the safety of our drivers. It isn’t easy having to haul freight “the long way around,” if there are any openings for them to get through at all. Van Kam abides by all federal and provincial regulations that protect our drivers and those on the roads around them.

Another critical factor when dealing with carriers during this time is that EVERY FREIGHT CARRIER IN BC is experiencing delays. As much as we wish we could, we cannot fix highways, roads, or legal regulations on who can use these main highway arteries. Our passion is to get your freight delivered to its intended destination as soon as possible and safely as possible, but we must act cautiously for safety and legal purposes.

Dunn adds, “We are getting back on track, but again, that is dependent on mother nature and government road restrictions.”

Thank you to our hard-working employees during this challenging time, and much gratitude to our loyal and patient customers for understanding the situation. We will continue to make this process as seamless as possible.

More Info

Please contact your assigned Van Kam Business Development Manager for more info, or contact Customer Service: 604-587-9826 (Toll-Free: 1-888-229-9889).

Please visit the drive.bc.ca website for up-to-date road closures.

BC Highway Conditions: Toll-Free: 1-800-550-4997

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