Canadians rescue 18 people stranded in vehicles after flash flood washed out highway

WEBER, Vt. — A handful of helicopters plucked 18 people from cars trapped in deep mud Thursday after a deadly flash flood washed out several roads in a central Canadian community, disaster relief officials said.

Vermont National Guard helicopters with skis attached took off from a base near the town of Irving after a storm system stalled over the northeastern corner of Quebec, dumping several inches of rain on a lush region of pine and cedar trees. Helicopters first rescued seven people and then focused on those stuck in cars.

“They couldn’t get out, they were caught in the mud. People were scrambling out of their vehicles, taking their suitcases and camping equipment,” said Lt. Col. John Hamilton, a spokesman for the Canadian Army.

Irving is located near the border with New York state.

The storm, which dumped 50 to 100 millimeters (two to four inches) of rain in several hours, washed out the country’s only southbound highway between Irving and the U.S. border as well as a main road leading to the town of Wynantskill.

The Quebec provincial police force of emergency operations tweeted: “We have seven persons trapped in vehicles. Please help them, emergency services are on site and will go in as soon as possible.”

The highway remained closed as work crews cleared mud and trees from the highway.

“It’s a good move, and that’s how we always look at it. Keep people alive,” said Hamilton, who patrolled the region himself for about four hours Thursday afternoon looking for stranded cars.

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