Quebec spring flooding forces hundreds of evacuations
Quebecers remain on high alert as severe spring flooding continues across the province.
As of Monday afternoon, Urgence Québec says more than 2,549 residences have been hit with flooding and more than 1,600 people have been forced to leave their homes.
“There will doubtless be more flooding to come,” Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told reporters in Yamachiche, about 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal. “The weather, the temperature, the melting snow — and with a water level that is already high — what we can do is prepare the best we can.”
The Canadian Armed Forces also remain in the province, helping to fill sandbags and carry out evacuations where necessary.
Heavy rainfall and warm weather over the long weekend led to risings floodwaters across Quebec. Some of the hardest-hit regions include Outaouais, Gatineau, Rigaud, Laval, Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Sainte-Marie.
Urgence Québec says a total of six major floods are threatening Quebecers.
Rigaud, about 80 km west of Montreal, nearly 200 homes have been evacuated. The city says water levels are lower than expected — but local authorities say the river is still rising and are advising shoreline residents to be careful.
“It is wrong to think that the water is lowering,” the city said in a statement.
Legault says new approach needed to compensate flood victims
While touring Gatineau, Quebec Premier François Legault said governments will need to adapt programs as climate change increases the frequency of serious flooding.
He said on Monday afternoon the province cannot waste taxpayer money on compensating people for flood damage, only to see the same properties flooded again two or three years later.
WATCH: Quebec homeowners fight to keep rising floodwaters back
That is why beginning this year, flooding compensation will be capped by the province at a cumulative total of $100,000, after which the only aid available will be to help move out of the flood zone. They will be eligible for up to $200,000 for a new home.
On the weekend, he said he doesn’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for repairing the same homes over and over again, especially when such events appear to be happening more frequently, possibly due to climate change.
Montreal, Laval on high alert
In Laval, the army is helping residents pile sandbags to protect their homes and erecting dikes to prevent flooding. Authorities say they will visit nearly 500 homes on Monday to ensure people are safe.
The province is asking residents affected by flooding since it hit Friday to heed warnings and evacuation orders from local authorities.
WATCH: Laval hit by major flooding
In some regions, such as Trois-Rivières and Île Bizard, officials are advising residents to respect road closures. A real-time map of Montreal road closures can be found online as the situation evolves.
In Montreal’s West Island, the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro has posted a full list of street closures online. Residents are asked to follow the signs and to avoid traffic in high-risk areas.
What is being done to help
The Red Cross has launched a relief fund for victims, calling on the public to donate what they can to help those affected by rising floodwaters.
For those who have been forced to leave their homes, there are several temporary shelters and assistance centres set up across Quebec. The Red Cross also recommends to contact municipal authorities directly if there are no centres available in your area.
The Red Cross asks that Quebecers affected by flooding register with the organization either online or by calling 1-800-863-6582.
Volunteers are also helping to fill sandbags and stack them to help protect homes, buildings and streets.
WATCH: Rivers continue to rise across Quebec
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press
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