Approximately 1,200 people are stranded in Hope, BC, as a record-setting storm closed highways with flooding and mudslides.
Some of the drivers are sleeping in the local high school or a Baptist church, but many more are sleeping in their cars as supplies in the 6,000-person town run low.
“We’ve never seen a storm like this before,” Hope Mayor Peter Robb told Daily Hive. “Having the power out, all four highways closed, and heavy rain and flooding. It’s been a perfect storm, if you will.”
Robb said the province is flying in 1,000 cots and extra food this afternoon since all roads to Hope from other cities are currently impassable.
Food is running out from local grocery stores and gas stations as the community adds about a sixth of its population while new deliveries are shut out. Robb said the next supply issue will be fuel, with an extra 1,200 people running their cars for warmth while fuel trucks can’t get through.
Stephanie Martin, general manager at Ricky’s All-Day Grill just off Highway 1 in Hope, said the restaurant stayed open 24 hours so trapped drivers could sleep inside.
The business’s entire parking lot is filled with people camped out in their cars, and they ran out of food after serving so many people. On Tuesday, the kitchen again had a limited menu of breakfast items.
At the peak, Martin estimated more than 150 vehicles were staying on the restaurant’s property, part of which is flooded. Now that the high school and church have opened, some people have moved there.
“We’re a warm place to stay. The door is open for anybody that needs shelter,” Martin said.
She added that the restaurant’s owner, who lives in Chilliwack, also got stuck travelling home and has been staying there since the weekend.
“I’m just super proud of our community. We don’t have an emergency response system … and our town has really come together to help those in need,” she said.
Mayor Robb thinks that Highway 1 to the west could be the first road to reopen, but people trying to get to Vancouver will get stuck in Chilliwack since the highway is closed due to flooding.
For people trying to get home east of Hope, the wait could be even longer. Julia Pinder, whose parents (in their 70s) got stuck, may need to wait weeks to travel back home.
Her parents spent the first night in their truck before finding a place to stay with friends at the Shxw’ōwhámel First Nation.
“They were lucky to get more of their prescription meds from a Pharmasave,” Pinder said. “I am fortunate… Even though my family may not make it home for weeks, at least I know [they’ll] eventually make it home.”
BC officials have not yet given an estimated time of reopening for the damaged highways. Flooding and mudslides were so bad that entire chunks of the Coquihalla and Trans Canada highways broke off and washed away.
At least 100 drivers also became trapped between two mudslides on Highway 7 near Agassiz and had to spend the night in their cars. Military and Search and Rescue crews evacuated them by helicopter on Monday.
A mudslide also trapped drivers on Highway 99 near Lillooet. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Monday that crews had cleared one lane to allow stuck drivers to get out, but at least one person was tweeting on Tuesday morning that they were still stuck.
How about Highway 99?? Ma y stuck in Liloette waiting for your help.
— Hateshorts (@hateshorts) November 16, 2021
Daily Hive has reached out to the Ministry of Transportation for more information.
BC officials are scheduled to give an update on flooding and highway conditions at 3:30 pm.