Four people were left missing Sunday after floods hit Nova Scotia and parts of the province experienced the heaviest rainfall since 1971, forcing hundreds to evacuate and damaging or destroying 25 bridges, authorities said.
The heavy rains eased and the flood water was gradually receding, said Jim Abraham, former president of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.
Two-day rainfall totals in Bedford, just outside of Halifax, reached about 250 millimeters, or nearly 10 inches, of rain. In Halifax, rainfall was 100 to 150 millimeters, or nearly four to six inches, over the course of Friday and Saturday.
“This precipitation, peaking at 10 inches, is very rare,” Abraham said. “The last time the Halifax area had this high rainfall was in 1971 with Hurricane Beth.”
He stressed that today’s population is taller today, with more infrastructure, “so the impact – I expect when added up – will be substantially worse than in 1971.”
Six bridges were destroyed and 19 others were damaged, officials said.
The Nova Scotia Department of Public Works is repairing the damaged infrastructure as quickly as possible, said Mark Peachey, the department’s chief engineer.
“People should be able to get where they need to go in the next couple of days,” he said. “Projects are prioritized as needed.”
As many as 600 people had to evacuate across the province, while many were left stranded and some lost power, Nova Scotia premier Tim Houston said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
The search continued on Sunday for the four people who went missing early Saturday morning in West Hants, about 50 miles northwest of Halifax.
Two were children, aged between 2 and 12, traveling in a vehicle that was submerged, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. Three other people in the car with them managed to escape, police said.
Separately, a teenager and another man went missing after a vehicle they were traveling in was submerged in a flooded road. Two others traveling with them were rescued, police said.
Mr. Houston urged people not to search for the missing.
“To families, you have an entire province praying for the safe return of your loved ones,” he said. “I know many of you want to help. But again, given the treacherous conditions, the RCMP continues to ask people to stay away from the area so no one is put at risk.”
An underwater recovery team searched a flooded camp on Saturday and found an empty pickup truck that authorities believed was the vehicle the children were in. the police said.
Industrial pumping equipment from civilian contractors was used to lower the water level in the research area.
The flood has left residents in precarious situations.
Loushanna Carr, 33, of Ellerhouse, had to kayak from her home to get gas for her generator so she could keep her electricity going. Upon her return home, she felt her paddle hit something hard. She said she was a submerged car.
“Firefighters have been out and in,” Ms. Carr said. “Thank goodness there was none and the woman who owned it was safe.”
A group of volunteers, Halifax Search and Rescue, was called in at about 7:30pm on Friday and worked until 3:30am on Saturday, then promptly restarted after just a two-hour break, said Paul Service, a spokesman for the group.
Members of the group searched for stranded motorists, used boats to help people leave their apartments and rescued about 20 people from Bedford Place Mall in Bedford, he said.