More than a dozen people were rescued after the Kitimat River broke its banks and flooded the Big Spruce area early Monday morning.
Kitimat search and rescue teamed up with the Terrace swift water rescue team to save 12 people stranded by the rising waters. Twelve people were rescued via boat and two by helicopter.
James Armstrong arrived in the Big Spruce area late Sunday night.
“I was at the river’s edge down past the Giant Spruce park,” Armstrong told Black Press Monday morning. “I was sleeping in my truck and I heard a commotion at about 1:30 a.m.”
Sleepy and confused as to what was happening around him, Armstrong tried to leave.
“I drove around and saw the water rising… [then] I saw the water in my path,” said Armstrong. “I tried to drive through but my truck died halfway through.”
A fellow camper tried to help Armstrong get his truck out but with a dead truck, it didn’t matter.
By 2 a.m., Armstrong and the others knew they were in “quite a situation.” Someone called the RCMP and they all buckled down, hoping for a rescue.
“It was probably about five hours later that we actually got out of there,” said Armstrong, who spent those hours soaked head to toe from the rising waters.
“By the time search and rescue was coming through, they took the boat all the way down the road … it was deep enough that they could boat through with an outboard,” said Armstrong. “My pickup truck was probably under about eight feet of water … I couldn’t see it anymore.”
Multiple motorhomes were flooded out, he added, and a small car was swept down the river.
As for Armstrong’s truck, it’s a waiting game now.
“Some people told me that odds are my truck’s washed away,” he said. “One of the guides told me [we can’t get in] till [Tuesday] because the water is still rising.”
Some people were able to get their trucks further into the bush and onto higher ground, Armstrong said. He stashed some of his belongings with them and is hoping that if those cars survive, so will his things.
Search and rescue crews told Armstrong that the flooding may have been linked to high tides. High tide, he noted, began to go down at 5:30 a.m. this morning so water should continue to drain out throughout the day.
Roads to the lower Dyke, Big Spruce and Radley Park area have been closed due to high water.