Story at a glance
- A level 5 atmospheric river brought heavy rain and flooding across the Pacific Northwest and Canada earlier this week.
- In British Columbia, 18,000 people remain stranded.
- In Sumas, Wash., nearly 75 percent of the city’s houses were water damaged due to the severe flooding.
About 18,000 people remain stranded in British Columbia following devastating flooding and mudslides earlier this week, according to a report by Reuters.
Premier John Horgan declared a state of emergency in the area on Thursday.
“Provincial, federal and local governments are working with emergency personnel to make sure people and communities get the help they need as they work through yet another natural disaster. This provincial declaration of emergency will ensure the transport of goods, and essential and emergency services,” Horgan said in a news release. “Thank you to everyone for doing what you can to stay safe and to help one another as we work through this catastrophic time.”
An atmospheric river — a long and narrow region in the atmosphere carrying high amounts of water vapor — inundated the region, as well as areas of the Pacific Northwest in the United States, with heavy rain, triggering mudslides and leaving one person dead and multiple missing.
Mudslides and flooding have collapsed roadways and bridges, making some impossible to pass through, including in mountainous areas where travel can already be treacherous. The obstacles have impeded residents from seeking aid and food.
“Mountainsides just collapsed on to roads,” Andy Harrington, who lives near the affected Canadian city of Chilliwack and works in global humanitarian relief, told The Guardian. “The level of destruction is really difficult to comprehend.”
Military and government personnel were previously deployed to aid with evacuation and search and rescue efforts.
“This has been a terrible, terrible disaster but I know this: As British Columbians, as Canadians, we stick together,” British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said. “I want to come out of this. I’m going to build a stronger, better province and a stronger and better country.”
On the U.S. side in Washington, Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen revealed that nearly 75 percent of the city’s houses were water damaged due to the severe flooding, though he noted that a majority of its 1,600 residents were able to evacuate.
“Through the evening the water level has continued to drop,” the City of Sumas Facebook page wrote on Wednesday. “Hopefully, this continues to do so the rest of the day as we are predicting. This will help residents to be able to gain access to their houses.”
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