1 dead as mudslide destroys North Vancouver neighbourhood

A state of emergency has been declared after a mudlside destroys homes in North Vancouver.

Flooding, mudslides and avalanches continue to take their toll in vast areas of British Columbia.

In North Vancouver a state of emergency has been declared after a mudslide destroyed two homes Wednesday morning. One woman was killed when she was trapped under debris in her home, and there are fears the mountainside is so unstable, other homes may be affected.

The province has announced it will provide financial aid through its disaster relief program to anyone affected.

The devastation at the base of Mount Seymour is enormous. The neighborhood is built in tiers on a hillside. The highest street sits above a wide greenbelt of evergreens. One section of that forest is simply gone, washed away by the mudslide that swept down the mountain.

What's left is the river of mud that crashed down onto the street below, smashing into two homes, leaving them destroyed in its wake. Officials have been forced to evacuate more than 80 homes.

Bill Maurer woke up just before 3:30 a.m., hearing what he thought was the rumble of a snowplow. When he started hearing sirens, he went outside and saw emergency crews pulling a neighbour from what was left of his home.

"It was pretty dramatic," said Maurer, "he must have been on the upper floor of the house. He was covered in mud. He looked like an earthquake victim."

A woman was also rescued after phoning for help from her cellphone. Crews found her because she described the debris she was buried in.

Residents of the second destroyed home managed to crawl out after the mudslide swept into their bedroom, picking up the bed and surfing it across the room.

Adrian Thompson, who lives about 50 metres from where the slide occurred, said he was awakened by the sound of loud rumblings and snapping branches.

He said he spotted a young couple with their baby standing in the middle of the street. They told him the mudslide streamed right through their home.

"They said it picked up the bed and the bed was surfed across the room, and I guess picked him up, and he ended up lying next to her and they somehow crawled out of there."

Thompson said they were shaken up and suffered some scratches and bruises. He took them into his home for some medical treatment. They're now staying with another family.

Premier Gordon Campbell says he was struck by the enormity of the destruction after touring the area.

"You see bundles of clothes that were probably in a closet that are now lying there, or a mattress that's now lying there. You can picture the people that were there ... being swept out of your home like that at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning is hard for most of us to comprehend," said Campbell.

The slide occurred because of a mixture of weather conditions in recent days.

Last week, snow and cold temperatures froze the ground. Then 200 milliletres of rain fell in less than 48 hours. With the ground frozen, it has nowhere to go.

"The power of water we've seen in the last month around the world, what it can do. This is another example of the heavy rainfall, melting snow," said RCMP Const. Tom Seaman who was on site first thing.

The rain did dry up for much of the day, but there is more forecast. A heavy rainfall warning has been issued for Wednesday night, raising concerns that another slide might occur.

Environment Canada has warned that as much as 300 mm – twice the rain that would normally fall during the entire month of January – might fall over the next three days.

In the Southern Interior, an ice jam in a river near Keremeos, has resulted in water spilling over the dikes and flooding homes. Some people have had to be plucked from rooftops by rescue helicopters.

About 100 residents were forced to flee the area.

Roads have been closed by flooding across the Lower Mainland, while freezing rain and snow has closed many other roads and highways across the province.