“He should have been here at 6 a.m. to tell you the rundown of what had happened, what needs to happen, how the thing is managed.”
Hundreds of people driving on Highway 13, between Highways 20 and 40, were stuck for 12 hours without any help Tuesday night.
According to Sûreté du Québec (SQ) spokesperson Stéphane Tremblay, about 300 cars were stranded after a huge pile-up caused by a jackknifed tractor-trailer.
The premier said he has fired a ministry employee, arguing the government department was not informed of the problem until mid-morning Wednesday.
“Both my colleagues were not notified at all of anything until the next morning,” argued Couillard.
Lessard insisted he believed the process to deal with massive storms was working well, but there was an apparent break down in coordination.
Couillard apologized Thursday, expressing his sympathies for those injured, as well as those who died in storm-related events.
Provincial police reportedly asked for assistance at 2:15 a.m., but failed to follow up, according to Ian Ritchie, chief of operations for the Montreal fire department.
The fire department then headed out on its own to help those stuck on the road.
Quebec’s Transport Ministry said the clearing operation was a shared responsibility among the fire department, the Sûreté du Québec and the ministry.
READ MORE: Snowstorm wreaks havoc on Quebec highways
Wednesday, Couillard called it an exceptional situation, but added that wasn’t an excuse for the lack of a coordinated response.
“It’s an exceptional situation, but with an exceptional situation there should clearly be an exceptional response. It’s a major event,” he said.
“The fact that things don’t happen very often doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be better prepared when they do happen. We have to take the lessons from this now and do better — much better — next time around.”