British Columbia evacuations continue after floods and mudslides

Evacuation orders were expanded on Tuesday for one of British Columbia’s largest cities, where authorities rescued hundreds of people st...


Evacuation orders were expanded on Tuesday for one of British Columbia’s largest cities, where authorities rescued hundreds of people stranded on highways by mudslides and flooding from torrential rains.

In Abbotsford, a town of about 162,000 people near the Canada-US border, heavy rains have triggered mudslides and flooding in many parts of the city, authorities said. No injuries were reported, but residents have been informed late Monday to leave their home and take refuge in a convention center and high school in nearby Chilliwack.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun told a press conference on Tuesday that evacuation orders had been extended to 1,100 homes. He said his city authorities, with help from those in Chilliwack, “were doing everything possible to minimize the impact of the flooding.”

“The floods and mudslides have left a number of people displaced,” he said, adding that Route 1, a major link between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, was closed.

More than 80 families seeking shelter have checked into the Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Center, he added. “It is an uncertain and frightening time for those who have been affected,” he said.

Rescues continued on Tuesday, but relief officials said high flooding hampered them. Cars were overturned and the roads were impassable. Houses were slammed in mudslides and workers attempted to plug culverts to prevent the flow, Braun said.

Abbotsford borders the town of Sumas, Washington, where highways were also inundated and rivers swelled to the edge of their banks.

Water from the Nooksack River in Washington state flowed through Canada, flowed north and east, and then emptied into the Sumas Prairie, Braun said. Water levels had risen “dramatically,” he said, cutting off communities with no end in sight.

“Once it’s full, it continues to sink to the sides,” he said.

Hundreds of people were rescued from highways in British Columbia on Monday, officials said, after torrential rains triggered mudslides that trapped people in their cars and prompted evacuations.

Officials said that around 275 people who had been stuck since Sunday evening on Highway 7 near Agassiz, a small community east of Vancouver, had been brought to safety by helicopter. The Société Radio-Canada reported that the rescue operation ended after dark.

The efforts in Abbotsford are similar to those in other parts of southern British Columbia. Residents of Merritt, a town of more than 7,000 people about 170 miles northeast of Vancouver, were ordered to leave their homes on Monday immediately after heavy rains caused the Coldwater River to spill.

The weather system was caused by an atmospheric river, part of a storm convergence so vast it swept from California to Washington and southern British Columbia.

The weather system that dumped heavy rain and triggered mudslides in Washington state over the weekend was moving inland on Tuesday and hovering over central Canada, said Mike McFarland, meteorologist of the Washington State. National Weather Service based in Seattle.

A second wave of rain on Monday flooded the river valleys, turning them into large ponds, McFarland added.

“We have dry weather today and we really don’t have any significant weather systems for next week,” he said. “It will give all rivers a chance to recede and people a chance to recover from the floods. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: British Columbia evacuations continue after floods and mudslides
British Columbia evacuations continue after floods and mudslides
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