Canada is sending the military to help evacuate and support communities hit by “catastrophic” flooding, with the death toll expected to rise after record rainfall on the Pacific coast triggered a state of emergency Wednesday.
Officials said downpours in British Columbia this week trapped motorists in mudslides that left at least one dead and four missing, forced thousands of people to flee their homes, and cut off Vancouver and its port.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Washington ahead of meeting with his US and Mexican counterparts, said the heavy rains caused “historical and terrible flooding that has disrupted the lives and taken lives of people across BC.”
“I can confirm there are hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces members currently headed to British Columbia to help with everything from supplies to evacuation to whatever is needed,” he said.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan declared a state of emergency and imposed a travel ban, telling reporters “catastrophic” rains, winds and flooding “have devastated entire communities of our province.”
“We expect to confirm even more fatalities in the coming days,” he added.
This week’s extreme weather comes after British Columbia suffered record-high summer temperatures that killed more than 500 people, as well as wildfires that destroyed a town.
“These events are increasing in regularity because of the effects of human-caused climate change,” Horgan commented, just days after world leaders met in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference