Armed forces deployed as Quebec communities brace for spring floods
Quebecers are on high alert Saturday as flooding — or the risk of flooding — continues in many parts of the province.
In western Quebec, floodwaters have already claimed one victim.
A woman in her 70s died after flooding washed out a road in the municipality of Pontiac, Que., overnight.
Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault offered her condolences to friends and family of the victim at a press conference in Saint-Raymond, near Quebec City.
Guilbault said the Transport Ministry was available to assist municipalities with technical support.
WATCH: Île-Bizard in race against time as flood waters rise
“We are asking them to tell us about their specific needs in terms of assessments, protection of infrastructures and road networks,” she said, adding that the government will provide assistance even for roads that normally fall under municipal jurisdiction.
The Canadian Armed Forces have also deployed several reconnaissance teams across the province following a request by Guilbault for federal assistance.
The teams are working hand in hand with provincial and municipal authorities to determine where the forces can be most useful.
The Montreal area has seen about 40 millimetres of rain since Thursday with five to 10 millimetres more expected Saturday, according to Environment Canada.
WATCH: Road washed out by floodwaters in Quebec town
Rainfall warnings have been lifted for the area, but water levels were already high and were expected to rise sharply with warm temperatures and snowmelt runoff.
Several municipalities have already declared states of emergency and have been preparing for the worst.
In Île-Bizard, the mad dash to save homes from rising waters continued on Saturday.
Volunteers were scrambling to fill sandbags, while others were working to get them delivered.
But for some residents, it might be too little, too late.
WATCH: Pierrefonds prepares for flooding as heavy rain falls
A frantic Heidi Urban, who is visiting her mother from Toronto for the Easter weekend, told Global News that her mother’s home on Barabé Crescent was flooded two years ago and that she feared it was going to happen again.
“The lake is bursting,” said Urban. “The water is inches away.”
Urban also criticized the city’s response to the flooding.
“We ordered sandbags yesterday. Where are they?” she said, adding that dump tracks carrying only one pallet each had made stops in the area. “Why aren’t they packed with pallets?”
For his part, Normand Marinacci, borough mayor for Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève, said the city isn’t taking any chances.
“We’re acting just as if it’s going to be flooded in 2017,” he said. “We’re taking into account what our specialists are telling us and monitoring the water levels.”
Marinacci said the worst is expected to hit on Sunday or Monday. Volunteers are still needed to help sandbag at 500 Montée de l’Église.
Philippe Sabourin, spokesperson for the City of Montreal, said pallets with bags of crushed stones were delivered to homes in danger.
He urged residents to use the bags immediately, expressing concern after some pallets were seen untouched in people’s yards.
In Laval, where flooding is also possible, authorities have already distributed pallets of sandbags to 900 homes, and security officials have visited over 600 homes.
The Centre d’Accès Laval-Ouest, open 24 hours, is acting as an information centre with the Red Cross also providing assistance.
WATCH (April 18, 2019): Rigaud residents brace for flooding
In Rigaud, roughly 70 kilometres west of Montreal, streets that were dry on Friday were knee-deep with water on Saturday.
“We’re asking people to get ready to leave their house,” said Rigaud fire Chief Daniel Boyer.
“We had between 20 and 40 millimetres of rain, according to Environment Canada, and the water level raised about six to eight inches last night,” he said.
The water level on the Ottawa River is expected to continue to rise in the coming days.
“The water comes from up north so the water that fell up north is going to be here near Rigaud in about two days,” he said.
The flooding could be as bad, if not worse, than the 2017 floods that ravaged the town, Boyer said.
The difference is the speed at which the water levels are expected to rise.
“In 2017, we had the same level going up in 12 to 15 days. Now, we’re talking about three to four days maximum,” Boyer said.
Boyer said around 650 homes are at risk of flooding and that some 20,000 sandbags have already been handed out to residents.
While sandbags are still available, Boyer reiterated the mayor’s message from two days ago, asking residents to leave their homes.
“The water levels are going to come up fast enough that people won’t have time to finish their sandbags to protect their homes,” he warned.
“Just put things upward so the water won’t touch it and just leave. Take your cats and dogs, and go live somewhere else for the time being,” he said, adding that residents’ safety was his top priority.
Communities down the river are also expected to see flooding.
“The city of Hudson, Vaudreuil, Île Perrot, Terrasses Vaudreuil, Pincourt — we’re all in the same business right now,” he said.
Quebecers are being reminded to check with their municipalities for the latest news and warnings in regards to flooding and support services being offered.
Urgence Quebec published a brief onSaturday afternoon with the latest numbers related to the flooding. As of 3 p.m., 82 homes across the province were flooded, 89 residences were isolated and 206 people had been evacuated from their homes, including 68 in Rigaud.
— With files from Dan Spector, Phil Carpenter and the Canadian Press
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.