In the face of British Columbia’s climate disasters, community social services are becoming ad-hoc humanitarians.

Community social service agencies are taking on emergency disaster relief work as torrential flooding across B.C. destroys homes and blocks highways.

Why It Matters

Floods, wildfires, and extreme heat are becoming increasingly normal thanks to global heating — and their knock-on effects include the kinds of challenges community social services are well-equipped to handle, such as food and housing insecurity.

United Way B.C.’s emergency fund to help residents recover from 2021’s devastating summer wildfires was still active as the first raindrops from an atmospheric river touched down on British Columbia in mid-November, triggering catastrophic flooding and mudslides. 

Canada’s westernmost province is becoming a case study in the sheer tempo of climate disasters thanks to climate change. On top of an opioid crisis that routinely kills more people every day than COVID-19, B.C. faced temperatures last summer more akin to the Middle East than the West Coast, along with wildfires that burned the town of Lytton off the map.  

When November’s catastrophic flooding stranded hundreds of drivers, cut off First Nations communities, and killed at least four people in massive mudslides, non-profits and charities found themselves juggling their day-to-day social programs while


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