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Flooding causes chaos, extensive evacuations and power outages for thousands in B.C.

The atmospheric river has closed highways and caused flash flooding, evacuation alerts across B.C.

Forty-eight hours of torrential downpour in an atmospheric river event has left hundreds forced out of their homes due to extensive flooding.

Environment Canada estimated 50 mm to as much as 150 mm of rainfall in parts of southern B.C. on Monday (Nov. 15).

Evacuation orders have been issued for Merritt and parts of Princeton, two cities located in low flood plains which saw the brunt of localized flooding. Evacuation orders and alerts have also been issued for Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Squamish.

Highway 1, 3 and 7 all remain closed due to the flooding, with several mud and rock slides reported along the routes connecting the Lower Mainland and Interior B.C.

ALSO READ: Man rescued after being swept away in Princeton flood waters; caution urged near river banks

Meanwhile, the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Task Force team, as well as Canadian Armed Forces, responded to a landslide on Highway 1 between Agassiz and Spences Bridge where 150 people were trapped overnight, 50 of whom were children.

It’s unclear how many were able to be rescued Monday, but some reporting on social media that their loved ones have yet to be heard from. Black Press Media has reached out to the ministry for an update on rescue efforts.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a news conference Monday that the situation continues to be “dynamic,” with efforts focused on assessing damage and assisting evacuees. The remaining people stuck are expected to be rescued by end of day, he said.

Although rainfall warnings have been lifted for much of southern B.C., meteorologists are calling for an evening of windy storm conditions in Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and parts of the Okanagan before the weather appears to be shaping up into sunnier conditions for Tuesday.

ALSO WATCH: Search and Rescue helicopters bring Lougheed Highway evacuees to shelter in Agassiz

According to BC Hydro, roughly 90,000 customers remain without power.

“All available crews have been mobilized and will work to restore power to other affected customers in the region as quickly as possible,” a statement by the uility company reads.

Armel Castellan, a meteorologist from Environment and Climate Change Canada, said that September and October had received 200 per cent of their usual rainfall in what he called a “parade of storms” this fall. Some regions in the province have received more rain in the past 36 hours than they have received in some entire months of Novembers.

– with a file from Katya Slepian


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About the Author: Ashley Wadhwani-Smith

I began my journalistic journey at Black Press Media as a community reporter in my hometown of Maple Ridge, B.C.
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