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B.C.: Devastation unfolds, 250+ mm of rain washes out roads, forces evacuations

Tuesday, November 16th 2021, 4:50 pm - A mudslide that also trapped motorists has led to at least one death, confirmed by the B.C. RCMP Tuesday. A woman's body was found at the site of a slide that occurred on Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet.

British Columbia has taken a devastating wallop from an epic deluge, thanks to a plume of copious Pacific moisture that took direct aim at the province over the weekend and to start this week.

By the time the rain began winding down Monday afternoon, many parts of the province received 100-250 mm over the course of the previous 36 hours, and some even more than that. On average, most communities typically see no more than 250 mm of rain for the entire month of November.

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The impact has been dramatic: Numerous mudslides and rockslides were reported as rain-saturated mountain and hillsides shifted. Highway 1 was one of several that were reported closed in both directions at multiple locations.

One of the mudslides that also trapped motorists has led to at least one death, CTV News reports. B.C. RCMP said a woman's body was found at the site of a slide on Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet. At least two people were reported missing, according to Mounties, and there may have been other occupied vehicles that were lost in the slide about nine kilometres north of Pemberton.

The flooding reached critical levels in several communities: The City of Merrit issued a citywide evacuation order, while the Fraser Valley and Okanagan-Similkameen regional districts issued evacuation orders for some areas.

Officials in Abbotsford and Chilliwack have expanded evacuation orders with water levels continuing to escalate in the Fraser Valley. The impacts of the extreme rain continue to cause major problems through flooding, road closures and power outages.

In Merrit, severe flooding caused the complete failure of the municipality's wastewater treatment plant and what city officials are calling an "immediate danger to public health and safety." Officials also said residents with friends or family outside of the community should make plans to stay with them and evacuate to that location.

"People in Merritt, Princeton and areas along Highway 7 and 99 and the Coquihalla are seeing the worst of it," said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in a news conference on Monday afternoon. "I would like to thank everyone who is affected for your patience, strength and for doing everything you can to stay safe. As I said this morning, the situation is dynamic and further rains, high winds and possible snow in areas are compounding the situation."

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Meanwhile, rescue efforts by helicopter have successfully been lifting hundreds of people to safety after they were trapped along a southern B.C. highway from landslides caused by extreme weather,CBC reported. By Monday afternoon, around 300 people were rescued and no one was injured.

Meanwhile, power outages are continuing, and at one point, had exceeded more than 100,000. But BC Hydro is now reporting close to 15,000 customers are still in the dark as of Tuesday afternoon.

Below is a selection of tweets showing how the crisis is playing out across the province.

Langley, B.C. flooding/Shae Harding Langley, B.C. flooding. (Shae Harding/submitted)

This article contains files from CBC News.

Thumbnail courtesy of @KelseyAPaul/Twitter.

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