Montreal extends state of emergency as province continues to grapple with flooding

A woman talks to a volunteer emergency worker at her home on a residential street surrounded by floodwaters on Île-Bizard west of Montreal, Saturday, April 27, 2019.
A woman talks to a volunteer emergency worker at her home on a residential street surrounded by floodwaters on Île-Bizard west of Montreal, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The City of Montreal is extending its state of emergency by five days once again as communities continue to deal with high water levels.

Mayor Valérie Plante announced the decision Friday afternoon at a city council meeting to prolong the decree — exactly one week after it was ordered.

“The situation is stable,” said Plante. “But the water levels have not dropped.”

READ MORE: What does it mean when a community is in a state of emergency?

Under the decree, the city can order mandatory evacuations. It also gives more power to the city’s fire department to spend money, requisition private property and take other measures to protect homes in Montreal.

The hardest-hit areas include Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Île-Bizard. Almost 200 homes are flooded and 250 people have been evacuated from their homes, according to Urgence Québec.

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READ MORE: Montreal authorities annoyed by selfie-seekers in flooded areas

Bruno Lachance, chief of operations for the Montreal fire department, said Friday afternoon that while there is no rain for the forecast, the situation can quickly change.

Due to high water levels in the rivers surrounding the island of Montreal, the dikes that keep rivers at bay are still fragile, he added.

“A dike failure is still possible,” he said.

There is also the possibility that water levels could climb in the coming weeks, according to Plante.

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As workers and volunteers work around the clock to reinforce dikes, Plante says warmer weather will have an impact on water levels. She added she hopes the city won’t have to keep extending the state of emergency, but it depends on what happens next.

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While fatigue also sets in for Montrealers battling floodwaters, she said the city is there to support them.

“We’re not going to let you down,” she said.

The decision to extend the state of emergency comes as major spring flooding has wreaked havoc across Quebec for the past two weeks. Urgence Québec says about 7,000 residences are flooded and more than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes as of Friday morning.

The majority of evacuees are from Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, where thousands were forced to flee their homes after a dike failed last Saturday.

READ MORE: Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac floods — Legault is hopeful

One-third of the territory was inundated when waters from the Lake of Two Mountains rushed into the community.

Residents are gradually being allowed to return home to take stock of the damage.

Premier François Legault announced earlier this week the creation of a ministerial flood action committee headed by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. He also said he would appoint someone from the committee to work exclusively with the municipality of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.

On Friday, he announced Jean Séguin had been chosen for the job, citing his extensive experience in municipal affairs.

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“His know-how, his deep knowledge of the municipal field and his ability to co-ordinate the various government actions will certainly help the citizens to recover from this difficult situation,” Legault said in a written statement. “The government is acting diligently to manage this crisis. This appointment is a concrete example.”

Information sessions for Sainte-Marthe-sure-le-lac flood victims will be held next week at the Deux-Montagnes church located at 1002, Chemin d’Oka. Sessions will be held Monday through Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

—With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier