The search for two children who went missing during the devastating floods in Nova Scotia has come to a tragic end, though officials are still looking for a missing youth.
The Nova Scotia RCMP confirmed the body of one of the missing children was found around 10:45 Tuesday morning in the primary search area in the Hants County community of Brooklyn, N.S.
Police also said that previously unidentified human remains found on the shore of a waterway late Monday morning in neighbouring Kings County are believed to be those of the second missing child.
“This is a devastating time for the children’s families, their loved ones, and their communities,” said RCMP Chief Superintendent Sue Black during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“I want to extend sincere condolences on behalf of everyone at the Nova Scotia RCMP.”
The children were among four people reported missing in two separate incidents after vehicles became submerged in floodwaters in the West Hants area Saturday following heavy rainfall.
Officials recovered the body of a 52-year-old man from Brooklyn Monday morning. A youth who the man was travelling with remains missing.
The search for the youth continues.
“This afternoon, they remain focused on the primary search area in Brooklyn, where efforts to reduce the water level are continuing,” she said.
RCMP Sgt. Rob Frizzell said police believe the people were fleeing their homes during the floods, trying to get to a safe area, when they were pushed off the road into a field by the rising water.
Speaking during the news conference, Premier Tim Houston said it was “another incredibly sad day in what’s now been a series of terrible days.”
“The tragedy that’s happened here is really unimaginable, really hard to comprehend,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Abraham Zebian, mayor of West Hants Regional Municipality, told Global News Morning the discovery of the remains might help bring some closure to the victims’ families, but the tight-knit community is still devastated in the wake of the disaster.
“We’re very tight, we’re very close. When a person is hurt or in need of help, the whole community comes together and the people who step up the most are strangers,” he said.
“So regardless of who it is, this is felt by every single one of our West Hantsers.”
Zebian said supportive counselling is being offered at the West Hants Sports Complex for those who are struggling.
In Halifax, Mayor Mike Savage said cleanup efforts are ongoing, though there are “still areas of the city that are underwater.”
He urged people to avoid swimming or playing in the floodwaters.
“Those waters are not safe to play in. There’s a lot of contaminants in the water,” he said.
“It could have oil, diesel, propane…. These are not pools, and they need to be treated with real caution.”
Halifax has launched a flooding registry form for people who are unable to leave their properties due to road and culvert damage.
In Lunenburg County, police are also searching for a swimmer who went missing amid high water levels in Gold River on Monday.
Historic rain event
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.
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.
The floods also cut off the sole rail link between Halifax and the rest of Canada, and caused Canada Post to suspend its services in Nova Scotia on Monday. On Tuesday, Canada Post said operations have resumed in areas where “it is safe to do so.”
Experts say climate change is leading to more supercharged weather events in Nova Scotia and across the country. The devastating floods happened just two months after nearly 250 square kilometres of land was scorched by record wildfires.
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