“4 people missing in Nova Scotia after vehicles became submerged in floodwaters”

Four people — including two children and a youth — have been reported missing in Nova Scotia after the vehicles they were travelling in became submerged in floodwaters, RCMP say.

Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said two separate searches started early Saturday at the height of the storm.

“Two children are unaccounted for in relation to an incident in West Hants where a vehicle they were travelling in was submerged,” Tremblay said Saturday afternoon.

“Three of the five occupants known to have been in that vehicle were able to escape.”

In a separate incident, a man and a youth are also missing.

Tremblay said RCMP are not revealing the exact locations of the searches because they don’t want people interfering with the organized search teams.

Much of central Nova Scotia, including areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality, has been dealing with severe flooding and impassable roads Saturday after torrential downpours swamped much of the province overnight Friday.

An evacuation order that had been issued for people living near the St. Croix River system early Saturday morning has been lifted.

An emergency alert had been sent out to cellphones in the area at 3:41 a.m. AT. The nearby dam was also at risk of breaching.

Windsor and West Hants Municipality Mayor Abraham Zebian says that as of Saturday morning, the dam is no longer at risk.

“Thankfully it is under control, they relieved some water from that dam and we’ve got most of the area evacuated now,” he said.

Just before 3 p.m., a new emergency alert said people could return home if safe to do so, but asked them to “remain vigilant.”

It said the Avon River Hydro System is still experiencing high water levels, and some roads in the area remain flooded.

People affected by the flooding can go to the Falmouth Elementary School.

Zebian said there have been lots of washouts in the area and that some roads are still completely submerged.

“We’ll keep on watching the water levels and keep on draining that dam, and keep on moving forward trying to get more road networks cleared up and opened up.”

Anyone in the area who is still in need of emergency help evacuating should call 911, Zebian said.

Residents were told overnight to evacuate to the Brooklyn Civic Centre at 995 Highway 215, Newport, while a later alert said evacuees can also use the Windsor Civic Centre at 78 Thomas St., Windsor.

The South West Hants Fire Hall on Highway 114 on Chester Road is also open, Zebian said.

He said resources are stretched, but as the day continues, crews will continue to work to complete all necessary evacuations and keep monitoring the dam.

Windsor, located in Hants County, is about 60 kilometres northwest of downtown Halifax.

Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay told CBC News early Saturday that RCMP are helping with evacuations at Smileys provincial park campground, which is fairly close to the dam.

Tremblay said if people near the dam are not able to flee, they should call 911 for help.

Nova Scotia’s road conditions website is warning of flooding on highways 101, 102, 103, 107, 111 and 118.

According to the RCMP, Highway 101 is now closed at exit 3 in Upper Sackville. 

Halifax has also been caught in the deluge, with Halifax Regional Police warning that multiple roads are closed to all traffic. They include:

  • The Bedford Highway between Sherbrooke Drive and Flamingo Drive and between Dartmouth Road and River Lane. 
  • Union Street between the Bedford Highway and Rowledge Lane. 
  • Hammonds Plains Road between Gary Martin Drive and Larry Uteck Boulevard. 
  • Bluewater Road at Hammonds Plains Road.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve seen here,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.”It’s quite a violent storm and the ground, of course, is very saturated now, so any rain we continue to get only adds to the problem we have.”

Cars are seen abandoned on Highway 101 outside of Halifax late Friday, after torrential downpours flooded the area. (Frank Inrig/CBC)

Police also warned early Saturday that the storm has left rocks, gravel and other debris on roads throughout the region. They also said a number of vehicles that had been abandoned on flooded roads were towed. 

“A large number of vehicles also remain in flooded parking lot and on private properties.”

In a release Saturday morning, the Halifax Regional Municipality advised drivers and pedestrians to stay off roads due to unsafe conditions.

“Numerous roads are washed out and remain closed due to flooding. There are abandoned cars on roads and highways causing dangerous conditions. There is a significant amount of damage,” the city said. 

Emergency flooding calls can be directed to Halifax Water at 902-420-9287, while damage to infrastructure an roads can be reported by calling 311 or emailing hrm_emo@halifax.ca. 

The municipality has also opened two comfort centres for residents dealing with power outages and flooding, with the Beaver Bank Community Centre and East Dartmouth Community Centre remaining open overnight.

About 150 people have needed support thus far, the mayor said.

Those travelling on Halifax Transit can expect significant delays and detours, said the HRM, and updates will be provided on Twitter and on the city’s website.

Regional alerts sent by provincial officials throughout the night have warned of severe flooding, damaged homes and impassable roads.

Savage acknowledged that the last few months have been challenging in the province.

“We’ve had own little tour of Armageddon,” he said. “We had the horrific wildfires at the end of May into June and now we have flooding, so it seems like all the plagues are hitting us.” 

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said this “is a historic flood event for Nova Scotia.”

Preliminary estimates show up to 250 mm of rain fell in some areas as of 6 a.m., Snoddon said, adding that in the Halifax area, it appears to be the heaviest rainfall event since 1971.

Nova Scotia Power (NSP) says it has been dealing with outages in the Halifax and Liverpool areas that were caused by lightning. At the peak of the storm last night, more than 70,000 customers were without power, the utility said. 

As of 3 p.m., power had been restored to about 60,000 customers.

“Our crews are working and navigating the flooded roads to try and get power back on as quickly and safely as possible,” said Matt Drover, NSP’s storm lead at its emergency operation centre. 

Drover said the HRM and the western part of the province’s south shore got hit the hardest by the lightning. 

Many roads are completely impassable, he said, and crews are working with the province’s Emergency Management Office to safely navigate around them.

Drover expects power to be restored to most customers by late tonight or tomorrow morning.

Storms of this nature are only becoming more common, he noted. 

“Hurricane Fiona was only last year, so not even a year ago, and also the wildfires are recent as well,” said Drover.

“We have seen on our system, definitely more frequency and more intense storms than we ever have before”

Environment Canada’s rainfall warning says an additional 40 to 100 millimetres is expected and the rain won’t let up until Saturday afternoon for southwestern regions and late Saturday evening for eastern regions.

Halifax District RCMP are advising motorists to stay home due to bad weather and say there have been multiple reports of local flooding on Hammonds Plains Road, Lucasville Road, Sackville Cross Road, and parts of Sackville Drive and Beaverbank Road.

“Right now, the best thing people can do is stay home, monitor weather and news reports and check in on your neighbours who may need assistance,” said Premier Tim Houston in a release Saturday afternoon.

The province says a full assessment of damage won’t be possible until the floodwaters recede.

The closing ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games in Halifax set for Friday was cancelled, though there are a few events remaining on the schedule for Saturday.

Nova Scotia is experiencing a historic flooding event as significant rainfall sweeps the province this weekend.

The heaviest rain has fallen across an area which stretches from near Liverpool  in Queens County on the South Shore, through Lunenburg County, then across to northwest Halifax County and into Hants County. 

Preliminary numbers show rainfall totals in this area ranging from 150-250+ millimetres of rain as of 6 a.m. AT Saturday.

Some folks in these areas, especially near Bedford, Sackville and Windsor, picked up much of that rain in just five to seven hours. 

As a result, rivers and streams are overflowing and numerous road washouts are being reported by the Department of Public Works.

The heavy rainfall has ended over western areas of Nova Scotia as of 11 a.m. Saturday, with just a few additional showers and downpours possible this afternoon and evening.

The rain will continue over eastern areas through this afternoon and into this evening with widespread additional amounts in the 20 to 50-millimetre range and 50 to 100 millimetres or more possible locally, due to more downpours and thunderstorms in this tropical setup.

The rain in the east will taper off this evening and overnight. 

The most recent similar event occurred in Ingonish, Victoria County, in November 2021, when a rain and wind storm washed out several roads and bridges. 

Before that, on Thanksgiving Day in 2014, Sydney experienced serious flooding, which forced dozens of homes to be evacuated.

But this appears to be the heaviest rainfall event to hit the Halifax area since Hurricane Beth in 1971.

That storm dropped 266 millimetres of rain at the Halifax airport and 238 millimetres at Shearwater.

Being prepared for an emergency in advance can mean fewer calls for first responders when disaster does strike.

Several months of record-setting wildfires and extreme weather across Canada have underscored the need for emergency preparedness for millions. Here’s what you need to know.

The Red Cross recommends that people create a home plan to prepare for a possible emergency and provides a template. Consider family members who may require assistance such as children, the elderly and those with mobility issues, and include pets.

Familiarize family members with the the location of fire extinguishers and gas and electric utility shutoffs. Think about the best ways to evacuate from your home and decide on a safe place for family members to meet in case you are separated.

Once a plan is in place, practice it frequently.

A go bag is a small emergency kit that’s easy to grab in case you need to evacuate your home or workplace on short notice. Here is the checklist from the B.C. government on what to include:

  • Food (ready to eat) and water
  • Phone charger and battery bank
  • Small battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Small first-aid kit and personal medications
  • Personal toiletries and items, such as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Copy of your emergency plan
  • Cash in small bills
  • Local map with your family meeting place identified
  • Seasonal clothing and an emergency blanket
  • Pen and notepad
  • Whistle
  • Copies of important documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses and insurance papers and an inventory of household effects.

The B.C. government has a checklist for preparing an emergency kit that will last for three days in case you need to shelter in place. Food and water should be replaced twice a year. They advise putting supplies in one or 2 containers, such as plastic bins or duffel bags, and storing them in a part of your home that is easy to access.

The suggested list of contents includes:

  • Non-perishable food: minimum three-day to one-week supply, with a manual can opener
  • Water: four litres per person, per day for drinking and sanitation
  • Phone charger, power bank or inverter
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First-aid kit and medications
  • Personal toiletries and items, such as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Copy of your emergency plan
  • Copies of important documents, such as insurance papers and identification
  • Cash in small bills
  • Garbage bags and moist towelettes for personal sanitation
  • Seasonal clothing, sturdy footwear and emergency blanket
  • Dust masks
  • Whistle
  • Help/OK Sign: Display the appropriate side outward in your window during a disaster.

Nova Scotia’s guide to disaster preparedness also has specific guidance for older adults, people with disabilities and people with mobility issues. 

Our healthcare columnist Mary Jane Hampton takes a look at mandatory evacuations, and what you can do to make them less stressful.

The federal government advises having an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you can’t return home or are stranded in your vehicle. 

Here’s what is recommended:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
  • Water in plastic bottles so they won’t break if frozen (change every six months)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind-up flashlight
  • Whistle in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan and personal documents

Also keep these inside your trunk:

  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non clumping)
  • Antifreeze/windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares.

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