Photos: The catastrophic damage that severed B.C. from the rest of Canada
By: Tristin Hopper (MSN)
For one of the only times since the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1885, every single Canadian land route to the Pacific has been cut. Extreme rains brought a series of devastating floods and landslides that have severed the Trans Canada Highway, the Coquihalla Highway and both major rail lines over the Rocky Mountains. Unstable conditions have also forced the closure of the Trans Mountain pipeline and critical gas pipelines serving the City of Vancouver.
© Provided by National Post An RCAF Cormorant pictured in the midst of an operation to free more than 311 people (and 26 dogs) who became stranded near Agassiz, B.C. when landslides washed out roads on both sides of them.
The coming days are poised to yield any number of supply chain crises across Western Canada; bare grocery store shelves in Kelowna, backed-up grain shipments throughout the prairies and gasoline shortages across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. But as Canada grapples with the economic storm from the disaster in B.C., here is a gallery of photos - all of them taken by agencies at the front lines of the response - showing just what B.C. is dealing with.
Highway crews assess the damage wrought by a landslide along Highway 7, one of two road links connecting Vancouver to Hope, B.C. and communities beyond. This was actually among the less destructive washouts B.C. suffered on Monday. Barring any removal of the asphalt, this is the kind of blockage that can feasibly be pushed aside by a handful of excavators. As shown below, many washouts didn't just scour roads from the map, but utterly reshaped the terrain on which they used to lie.
The Tank Hill Railroad Bridge featured in the above photos was never supposed to span a waterway. But that's the current scene after mudslides completely obliterated the section of Trans Canada Highway that usually runs underneath it, leaving the Tank Hill Railroad Bridge clinging to life above an impromptu rush of floodwaters. This all occurred near Lytton, B.C., the village that was almost destroyed by fire in June only hours after setting Canada's highest temperature recorded.
This is the view from the back of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter as crews from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron rescued 311 people (as well as 26 dogs and a cat) after their cars became trapped between landslides near Agassiz, B.C., a community at the eastern edge of the Fraser Valley.
Somewhere under there is the Trans-Canada Highway as it runs through Abbotsford, just one hour east of Downtown Vancouver (the overpass forming part of the Whatcom Road turnoff is visible at the top right). Abbotsford is a center of Canadian poultry farming, with the result that rising floodwaters have left whole barns filled with thousands upon thousands of drowned chickens and turkeys. On Tuesday night, a large swath of Abbotsford was ordered to immediately evacuate after civic officials warned that the failure of a critical pumping station could lead to the "catastrophic" reformation of Sumas Lake, a body of water drained in the 1920s whose former footprint is now home to hundreds of homes and farms. "Residents need to abandon their efforts to save livestock, ignoring current orders in place and to leave the area immediately," read the order .
High winds caused this barge to break free and slam into Vancouver's Sunset Beach, where it remained as of Wednesday morning, immune to attempts to remove it via tugboat. Although the escaped barge quickly generated jokes that it was Vancouver's " hottest new night club " or a welcome addition of new real estate, the loose boat briefly threatened to slam into the Burrard Street Bridge on Monday, forcing the span's closure.
In this photo, members of Pemberton Search and Rescue make their way over a washed out section of the Sea to Sky Highway just north of Whistler, B.C. It was this slide that would claim the first confirmed victim of the B.C. flooding. Between five and seven cars were pushed off the highway by the rush of mud and debris. As of Wednesday, RCMP have confirmed the death of one of the drivers, a woman from the Lower Mainland.
It's on the Coquihalla - the northern highway roughly connecting the Lower Mainland to Northern Alberta - that the most dramatic damage was suffered on Monday. In the photo at left (which was widely shared across B.C. social media) the rising floodwaters of the Coldwater River have effectively erased a section of road from existence. The photo at right shows another view, with the highway's eastbound lane now coming to a jagged stop over a sheer chasm formed by the floods. When B.C. Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said it would take "weeks or even months" to restore the Coquihalla to full operations, it was after getting briefed on damaged like this.