Search and rescue teams have evacuated 311 people, 26 dogs and a cat stranded between mudslides near Agassiz, BC after two days of heavy rain.
Royal Canadian Airforce Operations tweeted the update Tuesday morning, it calls a “job well done.”
In its own tweet, the Canadian Armed Forces Operations described the rescue mission as a “herculean effort by all involved.”
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Three helicopters and a means of transportation were used to evacuate the stranded motorists and bring them to safety in Agassiz, a small community in the eastern Fraser Valley region.
“The landing zone was just hit by wind,” Captain Jonathan Gormick of Canada Task Force 1 said in an interview.
“We wanted to see Cormorants come in and take five minutes to land and keep getting blown around, so extremely unfavorable conditions to work under.”
On Monday, officials reported that at least 275 people – including 50 children – had been trapped between two mudslides that closed Highway 7 between Agassiz and Hope, BC
Hundreds had slept in their vehicles overnight Sunday as a historic atmospheric river soaked through the southern BC, causing devastating floods, landslides and mudslides.
Helicopter rescue begins for about 275 people trapped between mudslides in Agassiz, BC
The Canadian Armed Forces and Canada Task Force 1, a highly qualified city search and rescue team, were called in to evacuate them and took about 20 people at a time in helicopters.
“We are grateful for our community, which came along with food donations, with clothing donations and offers of a place to live,” Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger said as the rescue mission concluded.
The second phase of the search and rescue operation has now begun, according to an update from the Canada Task Force on Tuesday afternoon.
Crews remain on Highway 7, it said, to assess the scene before launching a search with heavy machinery, dog units and hand tools.
“Although the roadway has now been cleared of potentially jammed vehicles or people, the Task Force is now focused on the waste field between Highway 7 and the Fraser River, which is deep with debris and water,” Gormick said.
“There are currently no reports of missing vehicles, but a more thorough search confirming that the area is free of casualties.”
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According to BC Ministry of Transportation’s DriveBC, the highway remains closed in both directions in Kent due to the mudslide between Highlands Boulevard and Bodnar Road, and the second mudslide between Johnson Slough Rest Area and Ross Road, east of Hope.
The provincial government is asking all residents of BC to avoid unnecessary travel to evacuated areas as well as areas on alert.
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