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Western Canada flooded; Vancouver cut off; Emergency in British Columbia

VANCOUVER, Nov 19: Tens of thousands of people were stranded and essential supplies crippled in British Columbia, the western province of Canada on the Pacific coastline, following week-long torrential rains and floods that damaged roads, bridges, houses and infrastructure. The air force had to be called in for rescue and relief.

Several towns and Vancouver port were cut off. At some places the downpour was 200 mm on Sunday when the rains and storm began, leading to a deluge on Monday.

British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province, was the worst affected by the unprecedented floods. Its Vancouver port city is Canada’s densest and most diverse in population.

The flooding followed widespread wildfires last summer ravaging several areas of British Columbia. The resulting deforestation of the hills may have contributed to the current flooding, it is said.

A state of emergency was declared in British Columbia on Wednesday as flooding and landslides caused food shortages, left motorists stranded and cut off the west coast city of Vancouver. Air Force personnel were assisting in rescue, evacuation and relief operations.

As heavy rain continued, roads were damaged by mudslides. In the heavy rains that continued since Monday, vehicles were stranded in many places in Vancouver. Casualties were not known. Towns were cut off and supplies were affected, leading to shortages of essential goods. Canadian Pacific Rail and Canadian National Railway, rail companies, have cut services to the port of Vancouver. Some towns had to be completely evacuated.

“There’s been enormous damage to roads, to bridges, to rail lines, to water treatment centres, dykes and pumping stations. There’s a very significant impact on infrastructure,” according to Mayor Henry Braun.

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