Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Nova Scotia floods cause ‘unimaginable’ damage; Four people are missing


OTTAWA (Reuters) – The heaviest rain in the Canadian Atlantic province of Nova Scotia in more than 50 years has caused flooding that has caused “unimaginable” damage and four people, including two children, are missing, officials said on Saturday.

The storm, which began on Friday, dumped more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) in some parts in just 24 hours – the same amount that normally falls in three months. The resulting flood washed away roads, weakened bridges, and inundated buildings.

“We have a scary and significant situation,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said, adding that at least seven bridges would have to be replaced or rebuilt.

“The property damage … is unimaginable,” he told a news conference. Houston said the province will seek significant support from the federal government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Toronto that he was very concerned about the flooding and promised that Ottawa would “be there” in the province.

The floods were the latest weather-related disaster to hit Canada this year. Forest fires have already burned a record number of hectares, sending clouds of smoke into the United States. Earlier this month, heavy rains caused flooding in several states in the eastern United States.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city, and four other regions.

The Halifax Regional Municipality reported “extreme damage to roads and infrastructure” and urged people to stay indoors and not use their cars.

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Pictures posted on social media from Halifax showed abandoned cars almost covered in flood waters and rescue workers using boats to rescue people.

Houston said, citing police, that two children were missing after the car they were in sank. In another incident, a man and a young man went missing after their car plunged into deep water.

At one point, more than 80,000 people were without electricity.

Environment Canada is forecasting heavy rain in the eastern part of the province through Sunday.

“People shouldn’t assume it’s all over. This is a very dynamic situation,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said at the press conference, adding that the city has been hit with “Biblical proportions of rain.”

Ryan Snowdon, a meteorologist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, said the rain in Halifax was the heaviest since a hurricane hit the city in 1971.

Early Saturday, authorities in northern Nova Scotia ordered residents to evacuate amid fears that a dam near the St. Croix river system had been breached. They later rescind the evacuation order.

(Reporting by David Leungren). Editing by Daniel Wallis, Richard Chang, and Paul Simao

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Covering Canadian political, economic and general news as well as breaking news across North America, he was previously based in London and Moscow and winner of this year’s Reuters Treasury Department Scoop.