Heavy rains in Canada force evacuations and trap motorists

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Relentless rain fell on Canada’s Pacific coast on Monday, forcing the evacuation of a city and trapping motorists as mudslides, rocks and debris washed away on major highways.

Some 275 people, according to local media, were stranded overnight in their cars between mudslides on Highway 7 near the town of Agassiz in British Columbia.

Merritt – about 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the coast – ordered the evacuation of all of its 7,000 residents after flooding compromised the local sewage treatment plant and washed away two bridges. Barricades were also erected to restrict access to the city.

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said search and rescue teams have been dispatched to free those trapped for hours without food or water in 80 to 100 cars.

“We are studying the possibility of aerial rescues, if necessary,” he told a press conference, adding that “high winds could jeopardize these efforts.”

Farnworth said there had been “multiple incidents caused by the rain” in the southwest and central areas of the province, calling the situation “dynamic”.

Video footage showed a military helicopter landing on the highway covered in mud and debris, to pick up stranded motorists.

British Columbia Emergency Health Services said they transported nine patients to hospital with minor injuries overnight due to the Agassiz landslide.

And he has assembled ambulances in nearby Chilliwack “for all patients requiring care in areas affected by floods and landslides,” he added.

Emergency centers have also been set up for displaced residents.

In a Twitter message to British Columbians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Please stay safe. “

“We are ready to provide all the help you need to deal with and recover from the floods and these extreme weather conditions,” he said.

Wettest Ever

The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation said several highways were closed on Monday. “The heavy rains and subsequent mudslides / flooding impacted various highways in the interior of British Columbia,” he said.

The local utility has issued flood alerts due to the high water flows in its reservoirs and said it is working to restore power to thousands of people affected by blackouts.

Construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline connecting the oil sands of Alberta to the Pacific coast has also been halted, a company spokesperson told AFP, “due to widespread flooding and mudslides. debris”.

In the town of Abbotsford, outside Vancouver, authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 100 homes in several neighborhoods threatened by flooding and mudslides, while television footage showed farms in the valley Fraser River under several feet of water.

Meteorologist Tyler Hamilton commented on social media that Abbotsford over the past 140 days has seen both its hottest and wettest days in history.

Environment Canada said up to 250 millimeters (almost 10 inches) of rain – what the region normally receives in a month – was expected by the end of the day in and around Vancouver, which was also hit last week by a rare tornado.

“A major atmospheric fluvial event continues to bring abundant amounts of rain to the south coast of British Columbia,” he said.

“The heavy rains will ease and strong westerly winds will develop this afternoon as the system moves inland.”

The extreme weather comes after British Columbia suffered record high temperatures over the summer that killed more than 500 people, as well as wildfires that destroyed a city.

(AFP)

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