Search and rescue teams have evacuated 311 people, 26 dogs and one cat stranded between mudslides near Agassiz, B.C. after two days of torrential rain.
Royal Canadian Airforce Operations tweeted the update Tuesday morning, calling it a “job well done.”
In its own tweet, Canadian Armed Forces Operations described the rescue mission as a “herculean effort by all involved.”
Three helicopters and a transport utility aircraft 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 being buffeted by winds,” said Capt. Jonathan Gormick of Canada Task Force 1 in an interview.
“We’d watch Cormorants come in and take five minutes to land and keep getting blown around, so extremely adverse conditions to work in.”
On Monday, officials reported at least 275 people — including 50 children — had been trapped between two mudslides that closed Highway 7 between Agassiz and Hope, B.C.
Hundreds had slept in their vehicles overnight on Sunday as a historic atmospheric river drenched southern B.C., causing devastating floods, landslides and mudslides.
The Canadian Armed Forces and Canada Task Force 1, a highly-skilled urban search and rescue team, were called in to evacuate them, taking about 20 people at a time in helicopters.
“We’re grateful to our community who came together with food donations, with clothing donations, with offers of a place to stay,” District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger as the rescue mission wrapped up.
According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s DriveBC account, crews remain on Highway 7 to survey the damage.
The highway remains closed in both directions in Kent due to a mudslide between Highlands Boulevard and Bodnar Road, and a second mudslide between the Johnson Slough Rest Area and Ross Road, east of Hope.
The provincial government is asking all B.C. residents to avoid non-essential travel to evacuated areas as well as areas on alert.
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