Police in Nova Scotia have found the body of a man who went missing amid historic flooding over the weekend, confirming the first victim of the tragic event.
The 52-year-old Windsor man was one of four people who went missing in two separate incidents after vehicles became submerged in floodwaters in the West Hants area.
A youth, who was travelling in the same vehicle as the man, and two children who were travelling in a separate vehicle remain missing – but police say they found human remains in a different area and are working to identify them.
“We are working with the Nova Scotia medical examiner’s office with regard to positively identifying these remains,” said Chief Superintendent Sue Black during a news conference Monday afternoon.
“Our hearts are broken for the families and loved ones of those who went missing over the weekend.”
Workers have pumped thousands of gallons of water from a flooded field to make it easier for search and rescue teams to access the area, RCMP Sgt. Rob Frizzell said Monday.
Both vehicles have since been located and searched, he said.
He said the man’s body was found in the primary search area around 9 a.m. Monday, while the other human remains were found by civilians in King’s County around 11:30 a.m.
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Frizzell said police could not provide further details, but said officers have been in contact with the missing peoples’ families throughout the search.
Although police haven’t officially said how the vehicles ended up submerged, people in the area have told The Canadian Press that the nearby Meander River spilled its banks and flooded low-lying land.
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Heavy rain, which began Friday, dumped between 200 and 250 millimetres along Nova Scotia’s South Shore, across the Halifax area and into central and western parts of the province, prompting massive floods in some areas.
Provincial officials said 25 bridges had been affected, with 19 damaged and six destroyed. At least 50 roads or more sustained significant damage.
Premier Tim Houston also spoke during the news conference Monday, offering his condolences to the families and saying it was a “heartbreaking day for our province.”
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“It’s difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy and the loss that we’re feeling today,” he said.
“We can rebuild roads and bridges and buildings, but we can’t bring people back, and the legacy for these floods will be the incredibly tragic loss of life.”
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A provincewide state of emergency declared on Saturday will remain in effect until Aug. 5, and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair approved a request from the province for continued federal assistance on Sunday.
During an unrelated news conference Monday, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said action on climate change is “urgently needed.”
“Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency this weekend after extreme rainfall that caused catastrophic, catastrophic flooding,” he told reporters. “And our hearts go out to families who are missing loved ones. This cannot become the new normal.”
Canada Post suspends service
Canada Post said Monday that collection and delivery operations in Nova Scotia are on hold due to severe flooding in the region. Post offices are closed for the day and mail will not be delivered.
Operations are paused until the company can “better evaluate safe areas for delivery,” it said.
“Canada Post continues to assess the situation and options to best serve the people of Nova Scotia and keep them connected. As we do that, the safety of our employees is our number one priority,” it said.
“We thank all Nova Scotians for their patience during this difficult period for the province. We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.”
Municipal offices across Halifax are closed Monday as emergency crews work to repair damage. Halifax Regional Municipality says many areas remain inaccessible, leading to safety concerns for local residents.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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