Residents around Legault and de Gaulle streets in Pierrefonds narrowly avoided disaster Tuesday morning.
“I was screaming like ‘water, water, water,'” said Imad Alsalehi, who says he was in bed when he heard his father yelling. “So when I went upstairs on the street I saw like water everywhere.”
At around 7 a.m. Tuesday, a massive breach in a temporary dike at the end of the road sent water from the Rivière-des-Prairies gushing into streets and flooding some basements.
“The breach was about, I would say, five-feet wide,” said Pte. Pierre-Oliver Paquet, a Canadian Army reservist with the Regiment de Maisonneuve, based in Montreal. He’s one of about a hundred military reservists on flood assistance duties in the province. Luckily, he and his team were stationed nearby.
“We were five minutes away,” he said. “That’s why we got here so quickly.”
Firefighters, police officers and municipal workers also arrived within minutes, many of them part of a quick reaction team. They flung bags and bags of sand onto the dike, to stop the leak.
“This dike protects about a hundred houses,” Montreal Fire Department chief of operations Martin Guilbault said.
At least one other dike has failed in Pierrefonds in the last week. On Sunday a dirt barrier on 5th Avenue started leaking, sending dozens of volunteers racing to stop the water.
Though flood levels are dropping, the water level in the river remains high so authorities say these kinds of ruptures aren’t surprising.
“There is always water pressure, always pressure on it,” said Guilbault. “That’s what happens. Things happen like that.”
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They don’t want a repeat of what happened in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac. That’s why residents and workers alike say constant monitoring of the dikes is so important.
“We don’t even sleep in the night, you know,” said Alsalehi. “We’re just going around check everything.”
But if it wasn’t for the rapid response team, authorities may not have been able to stop the leak. The fire department’s decision to set up the quick reaction team came just in time.
“They put it in place last night, they are on duty right now and that’s what happened this morning,” Guilbault told Global News.
Because of that rapid response, residents are breathing a sigh of relief.
“We’re really lucky, very lucky,” says Alsalehi.
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