14 rescued from overnight flooding of Kitimat River
Search and rescue crews raced in the dark to save campers from raging river, including a 94-year-old couple
Fourteen campers including two 94-year-olds had to be rescued early Monday after 36 hours of heavy rains caused the Kitimat River to quickly overflow its banks.
Images show motorhomes and cars engulfed by the swiftly-flowing brown river.
One of them belongs to Rolf Heym, 94, a Salmon Arm resident who was staying along the river with his wife, also 94.
Heym said he put on hip waders to check water levels through the night, and it was terrifying how quickly the river rose in a single hour.
"I didn't really expect that this river would rise ... not that high in that short of time."
When rescuers arrived in the dark, there was water inside Heym's motor home.
Kitimat RCMP said the call for help came at about 2:30 a.m. PT.
Ten police officers, along with crews from Terrace Search and Rescue, Kitimat Search and Rescue and the local fire department raced to the scene.
"Upon attending, we did realize that the water had risen very quickly and campers were in danger," said Sgt. Graham Morgan.
Heym praised the swift rescuers, which helped him and his wife escape quickly even though she has difficulty walking.
"Search and rescue came with a zodiac and pulled her out and she has not even wet feet," said the retired navy captain.
In total, 14 campers were rescued ranging in age from their 20s to 90s, said the RCMP, including two that were plucked by helicopter from the top of a vehicle after daybreak.
"We are relieved that we believe everybody's safe and sound," said Morgan.
He said it's unusual to have a flood like this so early in the season.
"We do experience heavy rains in October, November where we have seen floods like this, but this, for Sept. 11, was very unusual."
Rained so much in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kitimat?src=hash">#Kitimat</a>, even the channel is discoloured. <a href="https://t.co/kpuXVY1ysj">pic.twitter.com/kpuXVY1ysj</a>—@CameronOrrJ
While they believe the river has crested, officials are still asking people to stay away from the banks of the Kitimat River for now.
After the river subsides, officials will assess the damage to vehicles swept away by the river.
Heym said he is doing well, despite his flooded motorhome.
"You can replace many things but you can't replace life."