Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Torrential rain, flooding that hit Halifax was one in a thousand years storm: city

By Marlo Glass, The Canadian Press   

Headlines News Emergency & disaster management flooding Nova Scotia

July 26, 2023, Halifax – Halifax officials said Wednesday the unrelenting storm that lashed the city and surrounding regions with as much as 250 millimetres of rain on the weekend was a one-in-a-thousand-years weather event.

Erica Fleck, director of emergency management for the Halifax Regional Municipality, told reporters that city staffers regularly model once-a-decade storms and have plans to respond to storms expected to arrive once in 100 years. But the most recent weather was far beyond those estimates.

Fleck said the storm has weakened the city’s infrastructure and ecosystem, less than two months after unprecedented wildfires tore through Halifax suburbs and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.

The weekend’s rainstorm and subsequent overland flooding washed out roads and bridges across the province, leaving some people stranded in their homes, while others rushed to flee the rising floodwaters.


Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the city’s infrastructure is being “pounded” by frequent and intense weather events, referring to post-tropical storm Fiona in September and the wildfires this spring.

“For many of us, these events have come with the stark realization that climate change is here,” he told reporters. “It’s on our doorstep. It’s real, and we must find new ways to meet this challenge, the challenge of our lifetime.”

Meanwhile, the search continued about 55 kilometres northwest of Halifax for a youth missing since Saturday. He was one of four people, including two small children, who went missing early Saturday after the vehicles they were in were swept off a road and submerged as they fled their homes.

RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall said Wednesday that crews have drained a lake’s worth of floodwater from a hayfield in Brooklyn, N.S., which is the primary search site and where first responders found the bodies of a 52-year-old man and a child. A second child’s body was found in a coastal area of a neighbouring county on Monday.

Marshall said search efforts for the remaining person would continue until the primary site and nearby coastal area have been thoroughly explored.

Details have not been released about any of the victims, but police say the fourth person they are looking for is under 18.

The province has announced assistance for those who are struggling financially in the aftermath of the flooding. The province’s Disaster Financial Assistance Program covers up to $200,000 in uninsurable losses for households, small businesses and non-profit organizations, as not all disasters are covered by private insurance.

Additionally, Ottawa has announced it will replace, free of charge, key travel documents that were lost, damaged or destroyed in the flood, including passports, permanent resident cards and proof of citizenship.

Nova Scotia announced that as of 6 p.m. Wednesday it was ending the province-wide state of emergency declared on Saturday.

“This has been a significant event that has left a devastating impact on our province,” said John Lohr, minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office. He said the state of emergency was an appropriate response but the extraordinary powers are no longer needed as the province moves into a recovery phase.

Powers under a state of emergency can be used to limit travel in heavily affected areas, direct key people and equipment to the response effort and help co-ordinate repairs of critical infrastructure.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Print this page


Stories continue below