Response to Recovery: Emil Anderson Works with Industry Partners to Restore British Columbia Highways after 2021 Floods

30 November 2022

In November of 2021, an atmospheric river delivered an unprecedented amount of rainfall to southwest British Columbia almost overnight. High water levels and slides damaged bridges, culverts, and large sections of important highway infrastructure. This resulted in a complete shutdown of major transportation routes, stifling supply chains and trapping commuters.

Over the course of 48 hours, from Saturday, November 13th to Monday, November 15th, Environment Canada reported that 20 areas across the province broke daily precipitation records.

In the Lower Mainland, Vancouver’s International Airport (YVR) received 115mm, West Vancouver received 155mm, and Vancouver Harbour received 133mm. Further along Highway 1 into the Fraser Valley things got much worse. Abbotsford, BC’s fifth-largest city, received 167mm, Agassiz received 200mm, and Hope, a vital transportation gateway to BC’s Interior, received a whopping 230mm of rainfall over the two days.

These severe weather events so early in the Winter season, stressed and overwhelmed important road infrastructure, sending the province into an official state of emergency. And, stationed at the heart of this rapidly changing situation was long-time Finning equipment partner Emil Anderson.

Watch: Partners in Flood Response & Recovery

As the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s road and bridge maintenance contractor of Service Area 7 (Fraser Valley), Emil Anderson was thrusted into action to temporarily restore roadways, gain access to slide areas, and mitigate the failure of numerous at-risk bridges.

“Just in our area alone, we had every major highway and roadway closed at one point and multiple bridges at risk.”

Robert Hasell, President & CEO — Emil Anderson Group

Service Area 7 is a large geographical region within southwestern BC that contained nearly all of the most impacted and at-risk roadways, including Highway 1 North through Boston Bar where multiple slides had stranded travelers with little access to supply, Highway 1 East between Abbotsford and Chilliwack where a failed dike on the Sumas River had left many residents under water, and Highway 5 up to the Coquihalla Summit where seven bridges along 130km had either collapsed or were heavily damaged.

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, more than 300 workers using 200 pieces of equipment moved more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock, and other material to repair and reopen Highway 5 to commercial traffic on December 20, 2021, and, eventually, to all traffic on January 19, 2022.

Recovery from this degree of damage could not have been done this quickly if it weren’t for the tireless work of roadbuilders like Emil Anderson and their industry partners.

“The first thing we did when we saw the news was check in on clients in the Fraser Valley and surrounding communities to make sure they were safe. From there, we figured out how we could get them the supply they needed.”
Kyrsten Piercey, Outside Sales Representative — Finning Canada

Close-up view of a Cat excavator loading a Cat 740B with large boulders following the 2021 BC Floods.

Finning is a proud partner of those companies making the biggest impact in our communities. And, for Mike Hayes, Vice President of Shared Services at Emil Anderson, this bond is only entrenched further as time passes. “The relationship between Emil Anderson and Finning has been 85 years strong. The way that we are able to partner and find solutions in the most chaotic of times really speak to the longevity of that relationship and I think it continues to be strengthened every day.”

Emil Anderson is now leading permanent repairs to flood-damaged sections of Highway 5 and Highway 1 in a joint venture with
Peter Kiewit & Sons. Minister of Transportation, Rob Flemming stated in a recent June 2022 release that the goal is to “build back permanent infrastructure that will be equipped to better withstand the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.”

Finning and Emil Anderson representatives survey an excavation site following the 2021 BC Floods.

Finning is the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, selling, renting and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers across diverse industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications. We operate in Western Canada, South America, and UK and Ireland.