British Columbia Storm: Rescuers Search for Trapped Motorists; evacuation order issued east of Abbotsford

Rescue teams, encouraged by a more favorable weather forecast, will begin combing areas near Agassiz on Tuesday, searching for trapped motorists after torrential rains caused flooding and landslides in southwest and central Columbia. British.

Working with the RCMP, the Urban Heavy Search and Rescue Task Force and local fire departments will attempt to identify missing motorists who may have been stranded by the landslides Sunday night. So far no deaths have been reported.

Meanwhile, the threat of heavy rain continues. The Abbotsford Police Department issued an evacuation order Tuesday morning for areas east of the city from Sumas Prairie to the Chilliwack border, citing rising water levels.

The search follows Monday’s helicopter evacuation of 275 people, including 50 children and 20 dogs, caught between two landslides between Hope and Agassiz.

Dave Boone, director of the search and rescue task force, said his rescue teams targeted stranded motorists, created a landing zone and, working in conjunction with three Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopters, managed to airlift the last of them. evacuated shortly after dark Monday.

“There were some very strong winds and some very challenging conditions…. And the Cormorant drivers, I give them a lot of credit, ”said Boone.

The evacuees were transferred to a reception center installed in Agassiz.

Further east on Hwy. On December 7, highway crews were able to clear another landslide, allowing the 500 people trapped behind it overnight to drive east toward Hope.

“Today we are going to get up to go back to the Agassiz area to assess the landslide there,” Boone said. “We are concerned that there may be trapped vehicles, and we just want to make a final assessment as to whether there are viable rescues or whether there are recoveries.”

The landslides rolled onto the road during a “atmospheric riverThat brought a deluge of rain and flooding to the southwest and center of the province and forced an evacuation order in the inner city of Merritt on Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement posted on Twitter that the federal government is ready to help British Columbia residents affected by flooding and extreme weather.

“To the people of Merritt and all the people of British Columbia affected by the floods: please stay safe,” he said.

Historic conditions meant that some areas saw an average amount of rain for November in less than 48 hours, said Armel Castellan, meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

With files Steve McKinley and The Canadian Press

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