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Evacuation order issued as dam at risk of breaching near Windsor, N.S.

The latest:

  • Evacuation order for people living near Saint Croix River system.
  • Rainfall warning for most of Nova Scotia — with more expected later, Environment Canada says.
  • Officials warn of flooding on several highways throughout province; multiple roads closed in Halifax.
  • Over 40,000 Nova Scotia Power customers still without power.

An evacuation order is in place for people living near Nova Scotia’s Saint Croix River system, as torrential downpours swamp much of the province. 

The order was sent out to cell phones in the area at 3:41 a.m. AT. It says the “dam is at risk of breaching. All residents must evacuate immediately to the Brooklyn Civic Centre at 995 Highway 215, Newport.” A later alert said evacuees can also use the Windsor Civic Centre at 78 Thomas St., Windsor.

Windsor, located in Hants County, is about 60 km northwest of downtown Halifax.

Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay told CBC News early Saturday that RCMP are helping with evacuations at Smileys provincial park campground, which is fairly close to the dam.

Tremblay said if people near the dam are not able to flee they should call 911 for help.

Regional alerts sent by provincial officials throughout the night have warned of severe flooding, damaged homes and impassable roads.

Even more rain is expected today, Environment Canada said, despite ground that is almost saturated.

A flooded road is shown.
Flooding on the Bedford Highway, outside of the Sunnyside Mall, is shown on Friday evening. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Environment Canada has a rainfall warning in place for most of the province.

“The tropical nature of the rainfall from this system has already significantly impacted parts of the province, with some areas already receiving in excess of 150 mm from this system, and torrential rainfall rates in excess of 25 mm per hour reported in some downpours,” a 4:12 a.m. statement from Environment Canada said.

The amount of rain has varied dramatically “even within the same county,” the warning said.

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said this “is a historic flood event for Nova Scotia.”

Preliminary estimates show up to 250 mm of rain fell in some areas as of 6 a.m., Snoddon said, adding that in the Halifax area it appears to be the heaviest rainfall event since 1971.

Highway flooding

Nova Scotia’s road conditions website is warning of flooding on highways 101, 102, 103, 107, 111 and 118.

According to the RCMP, Highway 101 is now closed at exit 3 in Upper Sackville. 

In an emergency alert sent just before 9 a.m. AT Saturday, residents of Mersey River in Queens County, near Liverpool, were told to prepare a “go bag” in case an evacuation is required due to rising water levels.

Halifax has also been caught in the deluge, with Halifax Regional Police warning that multiple roads are closed to all traffic. They include:

  • The Bedford Highway between Sherbrooke Drive and Flamingo Drive and between Dartmouth Road and River Lane. 
  • Union Street between the Bedford Highway and Rowledge Lane. 
  • Hammonds Plains Road between Gary Martin Drive and Larry Uteck Boulevard. 
  • Bluewater Road at Hammonds Plains Road.

Police also warned early Saturday that the storm has left rocks, gravel and other debris on roads throughout the region. They also said a number of vehicles that had been abandoned on flooded roads were towed. 

“A large number of vehicles also remain in flooded parking lot and on private properties.”

In a release Saturday morning, the Halifax Regional Municipality advised drivers and pedestrians to stay off roads due to unsafe conditions.

“Numerous roads are washed out and remain closed due to flooding. There are abandoned cars on roads and highways causing dangerous conditions. There is a significant amount of damage,” the city said. 

Emergency flooding calls can be directed to Halifax Water at 902-420-9287, while damage to infrastructure an roads can be reported by calling 311 or emailing hrm_emo@halifax.ca. 

A map of roads blocked due to flooding is available here. 

The municipality has also opened two comfort centres for residents dealing with power outages and flooding, with the Beaver Bank Community Centre and East Dartmouth Community Centre remaining open overnight.

Those travelling on Halifax Transit this morning can expect significant delays and detours, said the HRM, and updates will be provided on Twitter and on the city’s website.

More than 40,000 customers still without power

Nova Scotia Power (NSP) says it is dealing with outages in the Halifax and Liverpool areas caused by lightning. At the peak of the storm last night, more than 70,000 customers were without power, the utility said. 

As of 9:15 a.m., power has been restored to 30,000 customers, according to Matt Drover, NSP’s storm lead at its emergency operation centre. 

“Right now there’s about 41,000 customers without power, and our crews are working and navigating the flooded roads to try and get power back on as quickly and safely as possible,” he said.

Drover said the HRM and the western part of the province’s south shore got hit the hardest by the lightning. 

Many roads are completely impassable, he said, and crews are working with the province’s Emergency Management Office to safely navigate around them.

Drover expects power to be restored to most customers by late tonight or tomorrow morning.

Storms of this nature are only becoming more common, he noted. 

“Hurricane Fiona was only last year, so not even a year ago, and also the wildfires are recent as well,” said Drover.

“We have seen on our system, definitely more frequency and more intense storms than we ever have before”

Environment Canada’s rainfall warning says an additional 40 to 100 millimetres is expected and the rain won’t let up until Saturday afternoon for southwestern regions and late Saturday evening for eastern regions.

Halifax District RCMP are advising motorists to stay home due to bad weather and say there have been multiple reports of local flooding on Hammonds Plains Road, Lucasville Road, Sackville Cross Road, and parts of Sackville Drive and Beaverbank Road.

The closing ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games in Halifax set for Friday was cancelled, though there are a few events remaining on the schedule for Saturday.

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