As heavy rain and flooding that engulfed British Columbia subsided on Tuesday, authorities said a woman’s body had been recovered from the mudslide and it would take several weeks before the province could recover from a storm that caused hundreds of people stranded on the highways. .
The woman’s body was recovered late Monday from the remnants of a mudslide that occurred this morning on Highway 99 near Lillooet, British Columbia, about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement Tuesday. . Two other people were reported missing after the mudslide and rescue crews are still searching the area for stranded vehicles, Dwayne McDonald, the commander of Mounted Police in British Columbia, said in a news briefing on Tuesday.
The woman’s death was first reported during storms that hit the Pacific Northwest since late last week, which provincial authorities said at a news briefing. called “the worst storm of the season in a century” to hit the area.
Rescue crews recovered seven vehicles from mudslide area, strewn with debris and trees, David MacKenzie, a manager for Pemberton County Search and Rescue, said in an interview Tuesday. They are waiting for the arrival of “heavy equipment” to remove the debris, he said.
“It’s huge how much debris covers the area,” he said.
Kathie Rennie, who survived the mudslide, said several people stopped their vehicles because another mudslide blocked their path a while ago.
“It goes down faster than the speed of sound,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We haven’t heard. It just went down and we stopped in the middle. ”
He said those not trapped in the mud tried to dig up the people with shovels and chain saws.
“We carried out first aid and put in our vehicles whoever we got from the rubble,” he said.
Several other highways remained closed Tuesday night, creating supply chain bottlenecks as repair crews waited for the floodwaters to subside. Provincial transportation authorities have asked people to travel only if it is essential.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Twitter on Tuesday night he offered John Horgan, the premier of British Columbia, “whatever support the province needs” in the coming weeks and months. In another statement on Twitter, he said he spoke to the mayors of the four affected areas to say he would help rebuild the areas.
“To the people of British Columbia: we turn our backs on you,” he wrote.
His statement came a day after hundreds of people were rescued from highways in British Columbia, officials said, after heavy rain caused mudslides that trapped people in their vehicles and caused urge to evacuate. Mike Farnworth, the county’s public safety minister, said at the news briefing that the storm caused three mudslides to cut off highways.
Officials said about 275 people stranded since Sunday night on Highway 7 near Agassiz, a small community east of Vancouver, were taken safely by helicopter.
“These are a very difficult few days in our province and there will be many weeks of recovery,” Rob Fleming, the province’s minister of transportation and infrastructure, said at the news briefing.
On Tuesday, the latest area of unrest was Abbotsford, a city of about 162,000 people near the border between Canada and the United States, which has been flooded in recent days by mudslides and floods.
No injuries were reported Tuesday, but residents were told late Monday to leave their homes and take shelter at a convention center and at a high school in nearby Chilliwack. On Tuesday night, the city ordered residents in the Sumas Prairie area to evacuate immediately as the area is expected to see massive flooding.
City officials said Tuesday night they plan to build a sandbag wall around Barrowtown Pump Station, ensuring the area remains prairie and not a lake. But they warned that the station was heading for an “imminent failure” that would exacerbate flooding in the prairie.
Mayor Henry Braun of Abbotsford told reporters Tuesday afternoon that evacuation orders have been extended to include up to 1,100 homes. He said more than 80 families looking for accommodation have already checked in at the Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Center.
“I haven’t seen this kind of destruction in my 68 years that I’ve lived here, and it has broken my heart,” Mr. Brown.
Abbotsford officials said Tuesday night that about 300 people have not been rescued and they will continue to work overnight. But high flood waters are hampering rescue efforts. Vehicles overturned and roads were impassable.
Abbotsford is on the border of the town of Sumas, in Washington State, where highways have also been flooded and rivers have grown up to the brink of their shores.
The weather system was caused by a river in the atmosphere, part of an aggregate of storms that swept immensely from California to Washington and southern British Columbia. It triggered mudslides in Washington State over the weekend and moved inland on Tuesday in central Canada, said Mike McFarland, a Seattle-based National Weather Service meteorologist.
“We have dry weather right now and we really don’t have any significant weather system coming in for next week,” he said. “This will provide an opportunity for all the rivers to collapse, and will give people a chance to recover from the flood.”
That was little comfort to Abbotsford farmers.
One of them, Loren Taves, said that while her family’s farm in the Highlands neighborhood was not affected by the floodwaters, her sister’s currant farm in Sumas Prairie was under water.
The Fraser Valley region, which includes Abbotsford, is dense with farms that raise poultry and grow products such as berries, Mr. Taves said.
“Those farms are definitely in big trouble with rising water inside the barns,” he said. “What are you doing for your cattle? What if a feed truck can’t come in and bring food for your chickens? ”
Mr. Braun, the mayor of Abbotsford, told reporters Tuesday night that he also owns cattle. He said he could sympathize with the farmers in the area who want to protect their property and pets from the floodwaters.
“They want to stay behind and protect what they have spent their entire lives building,” he told reporters. “I understand that. But there is no equal in your life. “
Mike Ives contributed reporting.