No end in sight to mounting devastation caused by B.C. storm
With one death, more than 10 people taken to hospital and at least two reported missing, there was no end in sight Tuesday to the devastation and chaos caused by storm-triggered mudslides and flooding.
“What we’re seeing is a natural disaster,” said Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety. “We recognize that climate change is playing a fundamental role in the challenges that we are facing.”
As rainfall ceased in many regions of the province, the grim toll from this week’s storm became even more apparent on Tuesday.
Search and rescuers extricated the body of a Lower Mainland woman who was dragged off Highway 99 on Monday with several other motorists during a mudslide nine kilometres north of Pemberton. Crews continued to sift through the debris.
Several major transportation routes remained closed Tuesday with no estimated reopening times, including sections of Highway 1, Hwy 3, Hwy 5, Hwy 11, Hwy 91 and Hwy 99, several of which were washed out by torrential rain, flooding, rockslides and mudslides.
Workers were still surveying the damage, said Transportation Minister Rob Fleming. “There will be many weeks of recovery ahead.”
Parts of the Coquihalla and Fraser Canyon highways will not be accessible until floodwaters dry out, said Fleming. “Based on the images that (we) have seen, the infrastructure damage there is significant.”
At least 1,250 people remained stranded in Hope by mudslides that blocked off routes in and out of the town.
“They are not stranded on highways, they are in Hope,” Farnworth said when asked about the province’s emergency response.