Montreal extends state of emergency as boroughs continue to fight against floodwaters

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WATCH ABOVE: The City of Montreal has extended its state of emergency until Thursday. Crews continue working to salvage homes and restrict potential flooding. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, residents and authorities are fighting to keep dikes from failing – Apr 28, 2019

The City of Montreal has decided to extend the state of emergency across the island for an additional five days.

The decision was made Sunday afternoon at an extraordinary council meeting held in the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro.

The decree allows the city to order mandatory evacuations.

It also gives the fire department, tasked with coordinating flood relief efforts, more powers to spend money, requisition private property and take other measures to protect homes.

Montreal Fire Chief Bruno Lachance, who is heading the emergency relief efforts, said there is still work to be done.

“We are still expecting an increase in water levels today and tomorrow,” he said, adding the next 48 hours were critical.

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Pierrefonds Mayor Jim Beis says water levels in the borough have now exceeded those of the devastating spring floods of 2017.

READ MORE: Pierrefonds cancels sports, cultural, entertainment activities amid state of emergency

The primary concern in Pierrefonds, according to the mayor, is to make sure the dikes hold.

On 5 Avenue, residents built a 0.5-km dike on top of a permanent dirt dike that was built some years ago. But that dirt dike has now begun to fail in multiple places.

The residents are now in a race to build a second dike five meters in, to hopefully stop the water from going any further.

Lachance said dikes are being closely monitored, but explained most of the current flooding in Pierrefonds has been caused by sewers backing up.

A system of balloons has been installed which blocks river water from backing up into the sewers, but some of them have failed.

“The balloons are difficult to install because of water pressure and the current,” Lachance said.

WATCH: Rising floodwaters have now cut off people in the small community of Pierrefonds, west of downtown Montreal. Residents who are still there are desperately trying to save their homes. And as Mike Armstrong reports, the only two ways into Pierrefonds are both underwater.

Click to play video: 'Floodwaters cut off access to small Quebec community' Floodwaters cut off access to small Quebec community
Floodwaters cut off access to small Quebec community – Apr 29, 2019

READ MORE: Floods and road closures expected to amount to traffic chaos for Montreal commuters

The city of Montreal has an updated map of road closure online, otherwise consult Quebec 511 for closures across the province.

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Meanwhile, close to a hundred residents in the borough of Île-Bizard—Sainte-Geneviève were scrambling to evacuate their homes in the dark on Saturday night after power was cut off, without warning.

“I got a neighbour who needs a CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure] to sleep so he needs electricity,” said Île-Bizard resident Jean Masse. “To cut it at large, without warning, is not very professional on the part of Hydro-Québec.”

Hydro-Québec confirms that electricity was in fact cut off to 89 mobile homes Saturday evening, after receiving an emergency request from firefighters just one hour before.

“The centre de mesures d’urgence de Montréal asked us to cut the power at 7 p.m. at the latest,” Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jonathan Côté told Global News. “We managed to do it just before that.”

It could take a while before power is restored in Île Bizard’s trailer park, considering the high water levels and obvious damage. Once the water recedes, each resident will have to get certification from an electrician before making a request with Hydro-Québec to restore their electricity.

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WATCH: Frustrations mounting at Île-Bizard trailer park

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Quebec Flooding: Frustrations mounting at Île-Bizard trailer park – Apr 28, 2019

During Sunday’s council meeting Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante vowed to do even more in the future to prevent similar situations.

“It’s hard to see people suffering and having to deal with a lot of stress right now,” she said. “At the same time, everybody participating and contributing — it’s great.”

“That being said, solidarity in moments like this is important, but then we need to work so it doesn’t happen anymore.”

Plante went on to vow that she would work to ensure strict zoning laws.

“We cannot continue this way. Not only to we need to protect more but we cannot let people and municipalities build houses in places where it will have not only an impact on their lives but an entire territory. For the future that needs to stop.”

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— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter, Anne Leclair and Karol Dahl

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