Nova Scotia grapples with the effects of devastating floods

(Reuters) – The province of Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast began clean-up work on Sunday after heavy rain caused devastating floods, as the search continued for four people, including two children, who went missing during the floods.

The storm, which began on Friday, dumped more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) in some places in just 24 hours – as much as it usually falls in three months. CBC meteorologist Ryan Snowdon said the rainfall was the heaviest on the provincial capital Halifax since Hurricane Beth in 1971.

Floods washed away roads, inundating buildings, damaged bridges and the Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) track used to reach Canada’s fourth largest port.

Tim Houston, the premier of Nova Scotia, called the damage unimaginable and said the cost would likely be in the “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

Nova Scotia declared a province-wide state of emergency late Saturday night that will last until August 5.

Two children are missing near Halifax after the car they were in sank. In another incident, a man and a young man went missing after their car plunged into deep water.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Sunday that police divers found an empty pickup truck in a flooded field in West Hants near Halifax in an underwater search, and believe it was the vehicle the two children were traveling in.

Search efforts continued in the same area for the other vehicle and all four persons. The crews used industrial pumping equipment to try to lower the water level in the search area.

“There is no visibility in this area. Our dive team located the truck by feel,” said Corporal Guillaume Tremblay, RCMP Public Information Officer.

And at a news conference Sunday afternoon, Houston urged people to stay away from the search area given the treacherous conditions.

Across the province, 19 bridges were damaged, six others were completely destroyed, and many roads remained closed. Up to 600 people were still under evacuation orders.

“Water levels are still high in many of the affected areas, but they are starting to recede. The main risks at this point are our transportation challenges,” Houston said. “It’s incredible to see the power of water and the impact it has.”

Houston also said there was “significant damage” to the portion of the CN rail track used by freight trains bound for the port of Halifax, which contributes about C$4.4 billion ($3.33 billion) to Nova Scotia’s annual economic output.

A CN spokesperson said some repairs will be delayed until water levels drop. “Once crews can safely complete their work, the track will reopen,” spokesman Jonathan Abekassis said in a statement.

Nova Scotia Power’s outage map showed just over 2,000 customers were without power Sunday, down from about 80,000 at the height of the storms.

The floods were the latest weather-related disaster to hit Canada this year. Wildfires set a record and sent clouds of smoke to the United States. Earlier this month, heavy rains caused flooding in several states in the eastern United States.

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($1 = 1.3222 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Nia Williams in British Columbia; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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