Wild day for hundreds trapped by double mudslides on B.C.’s Highway 7
Trapped in her car between two mudslides Monday afternoon, Angela Howard rigged plastic bags to the outside of her vehicle to catch rain water and tried to stay hopeful for her two young children.
But as the day wore on, and rain and wind continued to pound the remote stretch of Highway 7 where she and about 275 other people, including 50 children, were stranded Sunday night between Agassiz and Hope , the Abbotsford mother admitted she was struggling to remain strong.
“They are getting scared,” she said about her two children, aged four and six, who slept in their car seats Sunday night while Howard waited for daylight, turning on the car every so often to keep it warm while closely watching the gas gauge. “My heart breaks listening to my kids (ask) for water and food and I have nothing to provide for them.”
Search and rescue crews began evacuations by air Monday afternoon on Highway 7, while authorities worked to determine if anyone had been trapped in the flow of debris caused by an almost-unending deluge of rain that began Sunday and continued into Monday afternoon.
All 275 people were expected to be rescued by the end of Monday, said B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, adding that there had been no reported fatalities. The Agassiz fire department was credited with saving 12 people Sunday night in “treacherous conditions,” as their vehicles filled with debris and water.
Caused by an “atmospheric river,” the storm led to several mudslides along various B.C. highways from Abbotsford to Merritt, including one that sliced through a chunk of the Coquihalla Highway and another that toppled train cars near Yale. Meanwhile, people in parts of Abbotsford and all of Merritt were ordered to evacuate as people scrambled to pack up their belongings and farmers helped each other move livestock to dry ground.