Two days of heavy rains across British Columbia caused flooding, landslides and closed roads, causing an entire city to be evacuated. The rains were caused by an “atmospheric river” – a narrow path of air with excessive water vapor.
A woman was killed in a landslide on a highway about 100 miles northeast of Vancouver. At least two others are missing.
Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes after Sunday’s storm. Rescue helicopters transported 275 people, including 50 children, from a section of highway blocked by landslides near the mountain town of Agassiz.
More than 7,000 residents of the town of Merritt, just over 120 miles from Vancouver, were asked to evacuate on Monday after the river overflowed and cut bridges and forced the treatment plant to close. Some residents were still stuck at their homes on Tuesday, officials said.
The towns of Chilliwack and Abbotsford have also ordered partial evacuations.
Rail access to the Port of Vancouver was completely cut off by flooding and mudslides. The port is said to move around $ 440 million (over £ 325 million) in freight each day.
Port spokesperson Matti Polychronis said, “All rail services to and from the Port of Vancouver are cut short due to flooding in the interior of British Columbia. “
Part of the Coquihalla Highway, which connects Vancouver to inland areas, was severely damaged. The Trans-Canada Highway was also submerged.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said that in some cases like Coquihalla, “it could take several weeks or months” before things return to normal. “We won’t know until the experts do the job that needs to be done and they are doing it right now,” he said.
The flooding temporarily halted much of the movement of wheat and canola oil from Canada. The Trans Mountain pipeline, which transports up to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to the Pacific coast, has been closed.
Across the border, more than 50,000 people in Washington state went without power on Tuesday. Schools in and around the border town of Bellingham were closed for the second day in a row.
In the city of Ferndale, north of Washington, officials urged residents to evacuate areas near the flooding of the Nooksack River, which they said could cross the dike. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared a severe weather emergency in 14 counties.
It is the second large-scale catastrophic event in less than six months after wildfires ravaged an entire city in a record-breaking heat dome.
Additional reports by agencies