Halifax mayor Mike Savage has not minced his words about the historic flash floods still receding across parts of the HRM. On Saturday, he described this past weekend’s downpour as “biblical proportions” of rain, and yet more evidence of the “awful force and unpredictability… of a changing climate.” More than 300 millimetres of rain fell in parts of the HRM over the weekend, prompting a spree of region-wide emergency alerts, displacing roughly 200 Haligonians and turning Bedford and Lower Sackville into a disaster zone. Three people—including two children—died in the floods. One youth remains missing.
“This is going to take some time [to clean up],” Savage said in a Saturday press conference. “This is not something that’s going to be fixed this weekend. We’re going to have to prioritize, and we’re going to have to make sure that we get the work done in an orderly manner… And again, we’re asking residents to persevere, to help their neighbours to be patient, while emergency responders get to neighbourhoods.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Nova Scotia RCMP announced that search and rescue crews found the bodies of two children who had been missing near West Hants. Another youth is still missing from the weekend’s floods. Dozens of roads are still impassable across the HRM. Canada Post shut its Nova Scotia offices and has put deliveries on hold “until the company can better evaluate safe areas for delivery.” At the peak of the weekend’s storms, around 80,000 Nova Scotia households lost their power due to lightning strikes.
“We’ve had a scary, significant situation here in the province,” Nova Scotia premier Tim Houston said on Saturday. “The list of infrastructure, damage to bridges, roads and other buildings is long, and it will continue to grow.”
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RCMP find bodies of Windsor man, two children after flood
Two children were in a pickup truck with a driver and two other passengers near West Hants on Friday, July 21 when the truck submerged in water. The driver and two passengers managed to escape, according to an RCMP report. The children were initially unaccounted for. Police say they found the body of one child late Monday, and another on Tuesday morning.
Police say a man and a youth were travelling in another vehicle with two other passengers near West Hants that same day, when that vehicle also submerged in water. Two of the passengers were rescued from the vehicle. Authorities found the body of a 52-year-old man from Windsor on Monday. The youth remains missing.
The RCMP has not released the names of any of those missing.
“Our officers are working side-by-side with the search and rescue teams from West Hants, [Annapolis] Valley and Halifax, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those missing,” Nova Scotia RCMP chief superintendent Sue Black said on Saturday.
Dozens of roads washed out across HRM
Significant portions of road are still affected across parts of Halifax after the weekend’s historic rainfall—deemed the heaviest to hit Halifax since Hurricane Beth in 1971. One Haligonian captured video of a restaurant patio—that appeared to be from Bedford’s True North Diner—floating down the street. The rush of stormwater lifted maintenance hole covers right off the sidewalk in Halifax’s south end. Roads washed out or went underwater from Halifax’s Cogswell Exchange to parts of Hammonds Plains Road to Peggys Cove Road.
As of Monday, the HRM is asking Haligonians to “refrain from attempting to access blocked areas,” and to use “extreme caution” near the Sackville River and Bedford Highway. Regional staff say they’ve fielded more than 400 repair requests for public infrastructure. The HRM closed its municipal offices on Monday, and has asked administrative staff to work from home if they can.
Evacuation centre open in Dartmouth
The HRM has opened the East Dartmouth Community Centre (50 Caledonia Road) “until further notice” as an evacuation centre for those displaced by the flash flooding. Food, water and accommodations are available. The Red Cross is on site with support.
Support promised from Ottawa
On Sunday night, federal minister of emergency preparedness Bill Blair announced that he had approved a request from Nova Scotia for federal assistance, and that federal resources have been “actively supporting” the response efforts to flooding across the province. Per Public Safety Canada, requests for federal assistance can involve a range of support options, from logistics to mobile health units to Canadian Red Cross relief to—as a last resort—the Canadian Armed Forces.