British Columbia is grappling with the aftermath of intense rainfall and floods, which washed away parts of major highways and forced people to evacuate from affected locations in the southern part of the province.
Highway 1, 3, 7 and 5 in Coquihalla suffered extensive damage from river surges. Most of the highways remain closed, cutting off the Lower Mainland area completely.
The Coquihalla Highway, which appears to have snapped in two, is one of B.C.'s most important highways since it connects the city of Vancouver to the province Interior.
— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) November 16, 2021
Reopening of the Coquihalla Highway could take months, Global News has reported.
“In some cases, it can be hours, or a day or two to remove debris,” Public Safety Minister and Deputy B.C. Premier Mike Farnworth said Tuesday morning.
“But in some cases, like the Coquihalla, it could be several weeks or months. We won’t know that until the experts do the work that needs to be done and they’re doing it right now.”
PSA #2 - 🇨🇦Update
There is currently no way to drive between Vancouver (my city) & rest of Canada. Lower mainland is now completely cut off from rest of BC & country by road.
(Photo: Coquihalla Hwy split in 2)#ONEV1 #DemVoice1 pic.twitter.com/wlicgyOYdP
— First Class Smarty Pants (@ElizabethHCons1) November 16, 2021
A part of the Trans Canada Highway or Highway 1, known as the Malahat, also remains closed due to severe impact. A section of the highway cut off and fell into the water near Tank Hill.
Highway 1 connects major Interior cities to one another and closures mean most of them have lost road access to neighbouring cities.
This #Malahat #BCflood video is truly incredible… it was sent to me by a @CHEK_News viewer. I’ve never seen the highway like this. It looks like a river. #BCStorm #flooding #yyj #yyjtraffic #weather @CHEK_media @StacyRoss_chek @JoePerkinsCHEK @EmconSouthVI @DriveBC #BCHwy1 pic.twitter.com/WGh3y6pABK
— Tess van Straaten (@tessvanstraaten) November 16, 2021
A look from a flyover of #BCHwy1 at Tank Hill near Lytton and Nicomen.
For the latest #BCStorm travel info, check @DriveBC's website: https://t.co/0sq39Ad5WN#TransCanadaHighway pic.twitter.com/N4zVto5vNK
— BC Transportation (@TranBC) November 15, 2021
On top of this, all rail access to the Port of Vancouver, Canada's largest port has been cut off.
"All rail service coming to and from the Port of Vancouver is halted because of flooding in the British Columbia interior," port spokesperson Matti Polychronis said.
Vancouver's port moves C$550 million ($440 million) worth of cargo each day, so the economic impact of the rail halt could be substantial, Reuters reported.
VIA Rail services between Winnipeg and Vancouver are currently suspended due to severe weather in BC causing washouts. The highway fared even worse. Photo by BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure: https://t.co/Q88T0iK7da pic.twitter.com/pdlBsFBhp8
— Transport Action Canada (@TransportAction) November 16, 2021
#BCStorm update: Weather conditions and road closures are limiting crew access in many areas. We appreciate your patience as repair work continues. Please find the latest outage updates on our mobile site: https://t.co/nxhBxNPfKJ pic.twitter.com/niU3omqofP
— BC Hydro (@bchydro) November 15, 2021
Officials rescued 275 people who were stranded in between various mudslides by using helicopters since most of the roads were closed.
A job well done by @RCAF_ARC’s 442 Transport & Rescue Squadron. Using 3 CH149 helicopters and supported by a CC115 Buffalo, the Sqn evacuated 311 people, 26🐕 and a🐈 to safety in Agassiz after being trapped by landslides on roads in BC. @CFOperations @MARPAC_FMARP @BCGovNews pic.twitter.com/TXPPR7ih9a
— RCAF Operations (@RCAFOperations) November 16, 2021
Working with provincial partners, @VicJRCC_CCCOS coordinated with @RCAF_ARC 442 Sqn who had 3 CH-149 Cormorant helicopters evacuate over 300 persons stranded due to landslides in the BC Interior – a herculean effort by all involved, showing we truly are #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/kAPHBHKs0Q
— Canadian Armed Forces Operations (@CFOperations) November 16, 2021
Abbotsford and Chilliwack, B.C. authorities have expanded evacuation orders and are asking residents to leave immediately.
"This is changing so quickly that you might think you're OK one minute and literally half an hour later you'll see the change in the water levels," said Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr.
But due to the highway closures and limited hotel availability, officials have asked evacuees to stay with family and friends, according to CBC News.
— Tim James (@TimJamesCity) November 15, 2021
Officials are also rescuing those stranded in remote homes in the province using boats since there's no road access.
BREAKING NEWS: Members of Arrowsmith Search and Rescue now heading into Martindale Road area of Parksville to begin evacuating some residents of flooded trailer park pic.twitter.com/ya3nMRotM0
— Gord Kurbis (@CTVNewsGord) November 15, 2021
@nanaimosar is going in w/ boats to rescue anyone not already out of this flooded mobile home park on Raines Rd. as #flood waters rise. 13 residents from mobile home park are now evacuating their homes, and high tide isn’t until 2 pm. “@CHEK_News #BCFlood #BCStorm pic.twitter.com/kXAwtxgcMY
— Skye Ryan (@SkyeRyanCHEK) November 15, 2021
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said conditions remain in flux throughout the province.
"I would like to thank everyone who is affected for your patience, strength and for doing everything you can to stay safe," he said.