Canada flooding: Merritt evacuated following surge in flood water

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The Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed to assist thousands of stranded residents who have been trapped since the storm started on Sunday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged support whilst on a visit to Washington DC and has said troops would assist fixing the damages caused by the devastating storm.

According to reports, one woman was killed in a landslide and two people are currently missing.

On Wednesday, helicopters dropped food supplies to stranded mountain communities after slides destroyed roads and floods submerged major highways.

According to Reuters, the town of Tulameen has around 400 people trapped.

Nearly 1,500 travellers became stranded in the town of Hope after roads closed, Grace Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Kuhn told BBC News on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, a highly specialized team trained to rescue people from major collapses, was deployed to Highway 7 near Agassiz, east of Vancouver.

Team director David Boone told CBC News: “Our understanding is there were six to ten people that were trapped.

“We understand there were some people in vehicles that were, through means of communication, able to alert 911 callers that they were in need of assistance.”

Speaking about the debris, he said: “Obviously, it’s come from the mountain above, but in the darkness there’s no telling how far up the mountain the slope has been affected.”

On Monday, the Mayor of Merritt, Linda Brown, issued an evacuation warning for her city.

The order read: “Pursuant to Section 13 (1) of the BC Emergency Program Act, an Evacuation Order has been issued by the City of Merritt due to immediate danger to health and safety caused by a flood in the community.

“In particular, the Wastewater Treatment Plant is inundated and non-operational and will be for an indefinite period of time.”

It continued: “Continued habitation of the community without sanitary services presents risk of mass sewage back-up and personal health risk.”

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Brent Ward, a professor in the earth sciences department at Simon Fraser University, said this could be the worst flooding since 1983.

He told CBC News: “This is obviously an extreme event. I’ve been discussing with grad students … and we think this might be the worst series of landslides and flooding events since maybe 1983.”

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