Several People Rescued From Flooding Kitimat River

Fourteen people were rescued early this morning -- two of them by helicopter -- after heavy weekend rains caused the Kitimat River to overflow its banks.

Sergeant Graham Morgan says Kitimat RCMP were notified at around 2:30 this morning that several campers were being threatened by rapidly-rising water -- thanks to 36 hours of steady precipitation.

Members of Kitimat Search and Rescue, the Terrace Swift Water Rescue Team and the Kitimat Fire Department were deployed.

Terrace spokesman Dave Jephson says rescuers had to move fast, because several vehicles had become swamped and were in danger of floating away.

He said crews spotted one motor home with two elderly occupants inside.

"We came up with a plan to get a crew over to them safely using our Zodiac -- because of the danger of the fast-moving water, we just took one of them at a time to safety; we knew that there was another group of people stranded above in the trees, we could see some of their vehicles; while we all moved back to come up with another plan to assist Kitimat SAR, they had two members in the helicopter who were patroling; they had got word through the helicopter company that there was two people on the roof of a camper at the lower dyke, the helicopter hovered right above the camper roof and Kitimat Search and Rescue members were able to retrieve both of those individuals safely -- again, another dramatic rescue by Kitimat SAR," he explained.

Former Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan, who takes measurements for Environment Canada, says she measured over 15 centimetres of rain since yesterday.

Observers say the Kitimat River rose by more than four metres. 

Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries and no one is reported missing -- but several vehicles floated away in the fast-flowing river.

The roads to the Lower Dyke, the Big Spruce and Radley Park have all been closed until further notice due to the high water levels, and police are also asking people to avoid the area near the Kitimat Fish Hatchery until further notice. 


[Photos courtesy Facebook --  Christopher Joseph Holahan, Bennessa Scheper]