Canada: Once-in-a-century storm cuts road and rail links around Vancouver

A once-in-a-century weather event has cut off road and rail links around Vancouver, Canada.

Two motorways connecting the West Coast city were closed after being damaged by severe flooding.

Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes due to the massive storm, which struck on Monday.

A woman was killed in a highway landslide, and rescuers say at least two other people are missing.

The woman’s body was found near Lillooet, about 250km from Vancouver, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

RCMP Sgt Janelle Shoihet said that rescuers had not yet determined the number of occupied vehicles that were lost in the slide, AFP news agency reported.

The provincial minister of transportation, Rob Fleming, told a news conference it was the “worst weather storm in a century”. Minister of public safety, Mike Farnworth, said he had “no doubt” that the storm was linked to climate change.

Thousands of homes in British Columbia were evacuated after an “atmospheric river” dumped the region’s monthly rainfall average in just 24 hours.

All 7,000 residents of Merritt, about 120 miles north-east of Vancouver, were ordered to flee their homes on Monday.

Snow fell on there on Tuesday, and cars could be seen floating in icy flood waters in town.

Helicopter crews were also sent to the mountain town of Agassiz to rescue about 300 people who became trapped on a cut-off road.

Monday’s rains and winds had largely finished by Tuesday afternoon, but several communities remained stranded. On Tuesday, officials in Abbotsford told residents to leave the Sumas Prairie and Yarrow neighbourhoods immediately as rising water levels posed “a significant risk to life.”

Part of the Trans-Canada Highway, which connects Vancouver to the rest of the country, was submerged under water.

A chunk of the Coquihalla Highway, which links Vancouver to the province interior, appeared to have crumbled into floodwaters.

The port of Vancouver, the largest in Canada, was forced to suspend all rail access because of the flooding and landslides, halting shipments of food, fuel and other goods.

The port moves about C$550 million worth of cargo every day Fuel pipelines in the area have also been turned off as a precaution.

The storm comes after British Columbia suffered a record high heat wave over last summer that killed more than 500 people, and wildfires that destroyed an entire town.