VANCOUVER, British Columbia (NWN) – The Canadian province of the Pacific coast of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday following floods and landslides caused by extremely heavy rainfall, and officials said they expect to find more fatalities.
All major routes between British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, home to Canada’s third-largest city, Vancouver, and the province’s hinterland have been cut by leaks, floods or landslides following record rainfall in southern British Columbia between Saturday and Monday. The woman’s body was discovered during one of the landslides late Monday evening.
Heavy rains have led to terrible floods that have claimed lives and claimed lives across British Columbia. I want people to know that the federal government interacts with local authorities, ”said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington. “We are channeling resources like the Canadian Armed Forces to support the people, but we will also be there to clean up and recover from the impact of these extreme weather events.”
The federal government said it sent an air force to assist with the evacuation and support supply lines.
Military helicopters have already helped evacuate about 300 people from one of the highways, where on Sunday evening people were trapped in their cars after a mudslide.
“We expect confirmation of even more deaths in the coming days,” said British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan.
Horgan called this an event every 500 years. He said the state of emergency will include travel restrictions so that deliveries of essential goods, medical and emergency services are delivered to the communities that need them. He asked people not to hoard goods.
READ MORE: Canada sends military personnel to flood relief in British Columbia
“These are very difficult times. I’ve been on this hill for two years now, talking about the difficult times we’ve faced – unprecedented public health problems, wildfires, thermal domes and now debilitating floods we’ve never seen before, ”Horgan said.
Horgan said that over the past six months, Merritt has experienced arid conditions, where the river was at its lowest point in memory of living people and where people had to be evacuated due to wildfires at unprecedented temperatures. And now, he said, most of the population is under water.
“We need to start preparing for a future with more of these events,” Horgan said.
“All weather events are and may be related to climate change,” said John Clague, professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Simon Fraser University.
“Scientists are now saying that these particular events are becoming more frequent, exacerbated or intensified due to climate change,” he said.
“Record temperatures in the summer set the stage for wildfires,” Clague said. The fires burned the land so that water did not seep into the soil. According to him, this led to the fact that water from torrential rains quickly poured into steam and rivers, which led to floods.
The total number of missing people and vehicles in the Lillow City area has yet to be confirmed. Investigators received reports of two other missing people, but added that other motorists may have been buried in a hill on Highway 99. ”
Chelsea Hughes said she was grateful for surviving a slip that crashed into her car before she fell into a swamp as she drove down the highway. Hughes was on her way home on Sunday when she saw a tree start to fall when a hill pushed her car about a mile off the road and onto an embankment.
“Then the car stopped moving and I was just shocked. I was scared to move because I didn’t know if I was hurt, ”she said after spending about five hours shivering on the roof of her jacketless car next to another vehicle with four university students sharing one jacket on their car.
When Hughes finally contacted the emergency dispatcher, he helped her monitor one student after an asthma attack before they finally saw the lights of the lifeguards.
They spent an hour hiking, she said of the traumatic events that occurred Sunday night before nine of them were rushed to the hospital. She said that she was thinking about the family of the deceased woman.
“I think it could have been any of us, and there’s nothing you can do about it. When a landslide hit us, we just had to surrender, ”she said.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said thousands of animals have died and the province is rushing to bring veterinarians to other endangered animals.
“I can also tell you that many farmers tried to move the animals and then were forced to leave because the roads were disappearing under them,” she said.
A trade expert said the loss of major transport routes would hurt the movement of goods to and from Canada’s largest port in Vancouver.
“Vancouver really plays a huge role in our Pacific trade,” said Werner Antweiler, associate professor at UBC Sauder School of Business. “Commodities will be much more affected because they arrive by rail or large trucks.”
Associated Press writer Jim Morris reported the story in Vancouver and NWN writer Rob Gillies reported from Toronto.