Two children were among four people reported missing Saturday after a long procession of intense thunderstorms dumped record amounts of rain across a wide swath of Nova Scotia, washing away roads and bridges amid widespread flooding.
The children were with three other people in a car in West Hants — a largely rural municipality northwest of Halifax — when the vehicle got stuck in floodwaters, RCMP spokeswoman Cindy Bayers said in an interview. The three other occupants managed to escape, but the Mounties declined to release more information.
The RCMP said a second vehicle in West Hants, carrying four people, was also submerged. Two people escaped, but a youth and a man remain unaccounted for.
As first responders and ground search crews continued scouring the area on Saturday, the RCMP said no other details would be released because doing so would encourage untrained people to start their own rescue efforts, putting themselves in danger.
“I know it’s in our nature to spring into action and help,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston told a news conference Saturday afternoon. “But now is not the time.”
Having declared a provincewide state of emergency, Houston said he could not stop thinking about those missing and their families.
“I want them to know that everything that can be done is being done,” he said. “I know the entire province joins me in praying for their safe return.”
Torrential downpours started Friday afternoon across the Halifax region, dumping more than 200 millimetres of rain in the Hammonds Plains, Bedford and Lower Sackville areas. The port city typically receives about 90-100 mm of rain during an average July.
Based on radar estimates and unofficial observations, Environment Canada said some parts of Nova Scotia may have received more than 300 mm in 24 hours. Radar maps show the heaviest rainfall extending along the province’s southwestern shore to a point north of Halifax.