Floods Are So Bad Farmers Are Rescuing Cows With Sea-Doos in British Columbia

One person is confirmed dead and others are missing as torrential rain, floods, and mudslides devastate the Canadian province.

Nov 17 2021, 3:39pm

Severe flooding in British Columbia has reached catastrophic proportions with one person killed and several more feared dead.

A body of an unidentified woman was recovered at the site of the mudslide on Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, at least 250 kilometres northeast from Vancouver. At least two others are still missing, even after hundreds of stranded people were already rescued.

“No sooner do we get back into our vehicles, the people that were in front of us are just screaming and running. The look on their faces, it was like a tsunami was coming. It was the scariest thing that I've ever seen,” one motorist caught in a mudslide told CBC News.

Abbotsford, a city about an hour southeast of Vancouver by car, issued an “urgent notice” Tuesday night, telling all residents who had not yet evacuated the low-lying Sumar Prairie to do so immediately.

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“Conditions within Sumas Prairie within the last hour have escalated and pose a significant risk to life,” Abbotsford officials tweeted. “This event is anticipated to be catastrophic.” 

Images circulating on social media show residents fleeing their homes, with farmers struggling to rescue their animals out—flooding has washed out the roads. One man can be seen towing a cow with a seadoo.

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Many highways, including 99, were hit with mudslides and flowing debris as heavy rainfall lashed the southern part of the province. Together, the road closures have effectively cut off Vancouver and surrounding areas from the rest of B.C.—and Canada. 

All 7,000 people living in Merritt,  were urged to evacuate, but according to reports, some people didn’t leave because they were afraid of looters—all while sewage-contaminated water flooded the streets and surrounded homes, and the wastewater treatment plant failed, rendering tap water unsafe. A bridge on the south side of the city also collapsed late Monday.

The latest disasters are caused by an “atmospheric river,” or a corridor of concentrated tropical moisture that has brought with it excessive rainfall, flooding, severe winds, and mudslides across the Pacific Northwest. 

Parts of B.C. experienced a month’s worth of rain in less than two days.

Flood waters cover highway 1 in Abbotsford, B.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

It’s “the worst weather storm in a century,” B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming told reporters Tuesday. 

Torrential rainfall and subsequent floods mark only the latest in a string of natural disasters that have touched down in B.C. this year. Over the summer, the province suffered from a deadly heat wave that logged near 50 C temperatures—the point where human cells start to cook—before a long and harrowing wildfire season, marked by 1,634 fires, scorched the interior and displaced hundreds of people who are still waiting to return home today. In comparison, B.C. recorded 670 wildfires in 2020.

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Experts are already saying that the climate crisis is a contributing factor to the relentless extreme weather battering western Canada.  

“These events are happening more frequently and climate change is one of the reasons for that,” said Global News’s chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell. 

“I don’t remember ever seeing this in Canada, where you have those two extremes, from dry heat and then the fires and then over the same exact areas this record amount of rainfall.”

The floods have also hit the Pacific Northwest, specifically western Washington, where 170,000 people have been evacuated and tens of thousands of businesses and homes remain without power In the city of Sumas, just south of the Canadian border, at least 75 percent of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people have had to flee.

Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.

Tagged:

British Columbia, climate change, Pacific Northwest, wildfires, flooding, Abbotsford, Natural Disaster, Canadian News, worldnews

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