The impact of the devastating spring floods continues to be felt across Quebec.
Urgence Québec said Tuesday afternoon that while more than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result of the flooding, 6,704 residences are flooded and over 3,400 properties are cut off due to landslides and floodwaters.
In the Montreal area, the continued closure of the Galipeault Bridge off the western edge of the island made for another difficult commute on Tuesday, despite several measures to mitigate the impact of the flooding, such as free commuter trains on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line, free shuttle buses and the waiving of tolls on Highway 30.
WATCH: The Legault government gave more details on Tuesday about its controversial compensation program for flood victims. The new program requires homeowners to move out of flood zones. Global’s Raquel Fletcher has more.
While touring Quebec’s public security offices Tuesday morning, Quebec Premier François Legault reassured the population that the situation was improving across the province.
He did, however, note that the Outaouais River was still on the rise, as was the Lake of Two Mountains.
Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the river was expected to crest on Tuesday, but that it would take a long time for levels to go back down. Nonetheless, she expressed optimism.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
There was even a bit of good news in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, where a dike breach on Saturday evening forced emergency evacuations in one-third of the territory.
WATCH: Quebec flooding — Heartbreak in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac
The mayor of the off-island Montreal suburb, Sonia Paulus, announced a partial lifting of the evacuation order, starting at 4 p.m.
Affected residents will need to show a piece of identification and receive authorization from the fire department before being allowed to return home.
WATCH: Emotional reunion in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac
Legault also warned against pointing fingers after it became known that a 2017 report mandated by the community of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac showed important work was needed on the dike that failed.
“Work was done on the dike in 2009 and after what happened in 2017, a firm was hired by the municipality,” Legault said in French, adding the firm found major work amounting to millions of dollars needed to be done on a 3.5-kilometre stretch of the dike.
Legault defended the mayor’s handling of the file.
“My understanding is that the mayor researched what government aid was available and was in the process, during the year 2018, of looking at different scenarios,” he said. “They finally made a request for environmental authorization in February 2019, for work to be carried out in the fall.”
“I do not think that at this moment, we can blame anyone. We are in a situation where nobody thought it was so urgent and that what happened Saturday night would happen,” he said.
WATCH: Emergency evacuations in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac
The premier promised to do a postmortem.
“We will look at what programs need to be put in place,” he said, but added the focus now was to assist flood victims.
Legault also said the government will redraft a new flood zone map for the province. Residents whose homes have been damaged inside those zones will have access to a maximum amount of $100,000 for repairs or they can receive up to $250,000 to move.
Support for flood victims
While returning home may offer some relief, it could also lead to some distress as residents take stock of the damage.
In an interview with Global News, Dr. David Kaiser with Montreal’s public health office said past flooding events have shown that people can experience psychological distress before, during and after the events.
In some cases, the buildup of anxiety can affect people’s ability to cope. Kaiser said it’s important that people reach out for help before they hit their breaking point.
For any health-related questions, Quebecers can call 811.
For information pertaining to financial assistance, flood victims can call 1-888-643-AIDE (2433) or consult the Urgence Québec website.
Guilbault said public information sessions will be held in all flood-affected regions of the province, and temporary offices will be set up to help flood victims start filing their claims.
— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher