OTTAWA, July 22 (Reuters) – Four people, including two children, are missing after floods caused “unimaginable” damage in the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia after the heaviest rains in more than 50 years, officials said on Saturday.
The storm, which began on Friday, dumped more than 25 cm (10 inches) of rain in some areas in just 24 hours – the same amount that usually falls in three months. The resulting floods washed away roads, weakened bridges and submerged buildings in swamps.
“We have a terrible, significant situation,” said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, adding that at least seven bridges will need to be replaced or rebuilt.
“The property damage to homes … is unimaginable,” he told a news conference. He said Houston County would expect substantial support from the federal government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Toronto that he was very concerned about the flooding and assured the province of Ottawa that he would “be there.”
The flooding is the latest weather-related disaster to hit Canada this year. Wildfires have already burned record hectares, sending plumes of smoke into the United States. Earlier this month, heavy rains caused flooding in several eastern US states.
Officials have declared a state of emergency in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city, and four regions.
The regional municipality in Halifax reported “significant damage to roads and infrastructure” and urged people not to use their cars and stay at home.
Images posted on social media from Halifax showed abandoned cars submerged in floodwaters and rescue workers using boats to rescue people.
Houston, citing police, said two children were missing after the car they were in sank. In another incident, a man and a youth went missing after their car went into deep water.
At one point, more than 80,000 people were without power.
Environment Canada is forecasting heavy rain in the eastern part of the province through Sunday.
“People shouldn’t assume it’s all over. It’s a very active situation,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage told a news conference, adding that the city had been hit by “rain of biblical proportions.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corp meteorologist Ryan Snowdon said Halifax’s rainfall was the heaviest since a hurricane hit the city in 1971.
Early Saturday morning, officials in northern Nova Scotia ordered residents to evacuate amid fears that a dam near the St. Croix River system could break. Later they revoked the eviction order.
Report by David Lungren; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Richard Chang and Paul Simao
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Covers Canadian politics, economics and public news as well as breaking news across North America, formerly based in London and Moscow and winner of Reuters’ Treasury Scoop of the Year award.