British Columbia

Mudslides and flooding leave around 1,100 people stranded in Hope

Around 1,100 people are stuck in the district of Hope, B.C., after powerful rainstorms closed all the highways out of the community.

Province is working to clear a road to connect Hope to the Lower Mainland

A section of Highway 5 was washed away by the surging Coquihalla River near Hope, B.C., on Monday. Floods and mudslides continue to have a severe impact on highways throughout southern B.C. (Submitted by Jeremiah Steberl)

Around 1,100 people are stuck in the district of Hope, B.C., after powerful rainstorms closed all the highways out of the community.

Heavy downpours triggered flooding, landslides and destruction over the past few days around much of southern B.C. The Trans Canada Highway has been closed in both directions for almost the entire stretch between Abbotsford and Hope.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said 900 people are sleeping at Hope Secondary School and a local church, and are also being supported with meals.

Community members have been dropping off donations at the secondary school, and the district has kept its public bathrooms in Memorial Park open 24 hours a day.

"I want to thank the community for all that they are doing," said Farnworth.

Emergency Management B.C. is working with the B.C. Wildfire Service to transport food, water, cots and blankets to the city by air.

While the district is currently cut off by road in all directions, Farnworth says crews are working to clear a road to connect Hope with the Lower Mainland.

"One of our key priorities is making sure there's a flow of supplies so people can buy food and essential goods in areas with flooded or damaged roads and railways," he said.

Farnworth is considering a state of emergency after what he describes as a "once in a century" storm.

No timeline for repairs

Summer Sheeham and Tracie Fawcett arrived in Hope late Monday night after being stuck in between two mudslides on Highway 7 for more than 36 hours. 

The women were able to sneak past one of the slides and eventually into Hope.

"When we initially got here, it was the best feeling because we did feel safe and more secure," said Fawcett, although she admits to feeling a high level of anxiety. 

"It still feels a little bit uncertain. We still don't really have much of an update on when we will be able to return home." 

A mudslide ripped out a portion of Highway 1 at Tank Hill near Lytton, B.C. (BC Transportation)

Since arriving, the women have been sleeping in their car. They say they chose not to stay at the church or high school to avoid taking up space for others who might be in a worse position.

They add that the district of Hope and its people have rallied to support those who have been stranded.

"Hope has been incredible. Their residents have been beyond generous," said Sheehan.

She says residents are handing out food in front of their houses, while some businesses are giving out free food and coffee. Other shops have offered people places to shower, which the women say was much-needed after the events of the past few days.

PHOTOS | Scenes of the flooding and mudslides in southern B.C.:

But the women also worry that the additional number of people might put too heavy a strain on the community.

Sheehan says some gas stations seem to be running low on gas, while others only have a few bottles of water left on the shelves.

"It's really good right now, but I see it going badly real quickly if we don't open up or get some more resources," she said.

"I don't think Hope is really built for this many people to be here," added Fawcett.