Canada issues ‘red alert’ for British Columbia coast amid flooding threat

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Canadian coastguard deploys aircraft, vessels and support staff to monitor weather with threat of prolonged flooding

Canada has issued a “red alert” for its British Columbia coast, as residents monitored swollen rivers and hundreds of stranded motorists remained displaced following floods last week.

Forty-five aircraft and vessels from a coastguard search and rescue team are being deployed across the province to monitor weather and provide aid, as well as 150 staff to assist municipal flood control operations.

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“We urge our residents to take action now if flood risks are life-threatening,” said Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, assistant commander Canadian joint task force Pacific.

Five deaths from flooding and five-vehicle collisions were reported over the weekend as parts of British Columbia grappled with their most serious flooding in years.

Torrential rains in the south-west caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, causing widespread evacuations and forcing officials to close streets and highways across the province.

Officials did not say how many people were on evacuation orders as of Monday.

Those affected by flooding along waterways throughout British Columbia have received more than double the average rainfall in July over the past two decades, and are facing the risk of flooding and ice jams, the provincial government said.

“Our greatest concern is how could and when will we get all that water out of the province,” said Melanie Mark, deputy minister of emergency management and fire prevention.

The weather “is going to get better” but the risk will remain for a week or more, said Del Graff, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Forecasts included gusty winds and rain showers, but it would take at least a few more days for rivers to crest, Graff said.

A man stands behind his flooded farmhouse in Cache Creek, British Columbia. Photograph: Jason Franson/Reuters

In Cache Creek, a small community about 200km (125 miles) south of Vancouver, dozens of homes were evacuated due to rising floodwaters that had blocked roads.

By midday Monday, the Rocky River crested in the town with a peak of 26.42 metres (84ft) according to the City of Cache Creek.

Truckers gather in Cache Creek to help out and battle the rising floodwaters. Photograph: Phil Carpenter/Corbis via Getty Images

Other towns including Williams Lake and Prince George were also hit with flooding over the weekend. The Clearwater River breached its banks in Williams Lake and some residents were evacuated.

With Reuters

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