By Sophie Norden, CNN • Updated 27th November 2016
A rescue mission by Canadian military helicopters allowed motorists trapped by Sunday’s devastating mudslides in the town of High River, Alberta, to be safely retrieved.
On Monday, more than 120 military personnel completed the rescue mission.
Authorities said several people died in the natural disaster. Emergency personnel rescued stranded residents before the town’s inflatable green LifeStar rescue helicopters and tactical aircraft, a description released by the army’s media center said.
Crews rescued 172 people who were trapped in vehicles Sunday afternoon and evening. They reported no injuries.
An army vehicle plucked a woman from an auto parts business when other people could not get out through the thick mud, military spokesperson Lt. Emily Vanderhoof said. The woman suffered scrapes and bruises but declined medical care, according to CNN affiliate CTV.
CNN received a recording of a military helicopter pilot reporting from the front line of the rescue effort:
You can hear the pilot reporting a team of four soldiers rescuing a woman from an auto parts business, when a second soldier arrives.
“The lady said she got stuck under a truck. He helped her out. Got her safely to the helicopter. She was complaining of pain in her feet. Excited to see him again,” the pilot said.
Around 340 people were evacuated from the town — 120 from High River and the rest from surrounding areas — Sunday afternoon and evening.
The Army expects to perform more rescue operations in High River throughout the week.
CNN and CNN International are in contact with the High River Mayor, Brian Burke, who said the town was operating on a skeleton staff.
Wildfire fighters from Alberta responded to help residents whose homes were damaged in the mudslides.
The inflatable blue army ambulances flew to the area as part of the Alberta Wildfire team. At least half of the 1,200 structures that had to be evacuated were left in disrepair after being buried in mud, Fire Department media spokesman Marc Messier said.
The disaster agency from British Columbia provided recreational vehicles that were initially used to transport people from the town to a Red Cross relief center. This luxury was necessary because of the low number of volunteers available to help out in High River, Messier said.
Messier estimated it would take a month or two for the town to be back to normal, CTV reported.
“All along the road, people have been stopping, offering their support to anyone who might be displaced,” Messier said.