As the fight against COVID-19 continues across Quebec, the shoreline community of Pierrefonds is bracing on another front as the annual flood season approaches.
Since mid-March, the Montreal borough has been preparing for rising waters, Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough Mayor Jim Beis said.
Industrial water pumps have reportedly been installed throughout the borough in flood-prone areas. They are presently not operational but are on standby, the borough mayor says.
Beis says the borough has more than 20 pumps at the ready if the need arises.
Beis says the borough is now monitoring the water levels of Rivière-des-Prairies on a daily basis.
As of Tuesday, water levels are sitting below the flood threshold and are considered normal for this time of year, according to Beis.
Pierrefonds was one of the areas hit hardest by spring flooding in both 2017 and 2019.
Last year, the borough installed its own inflatable dikes and flood-blocking walls in strategic locations, saving over 90 per cent of the area.
Beis says city crews have learned from the previous floods and are prepared to act again, as they have done in previous years, despite the present crisis over COVID-19.
Beis admits his residents are already on edge during this time of year but added that the current state of pandemic has intensified the already worrying flooding situation.
“The anxiety level of a community that has gone through this twice in three years is high, but now it has this added stress of dealing with COVID-19,” he said.
“This is unknown, uncharted territory.”
With social distancing and quarantine measures now in place, borough officials are looking at different strategies to counteract rising waters.
Sandbagging efforts are an issue Beis is foreseeing, and the borough mayor says he is evaluating measures that would see the use of new machines and mechanical loader truck attachments that could provide the thousands of necessary bags needed.
“These types of machines and equipment are available on the marketplace that can bag hundreds, if not thousands, of sandbags at a moment’s notice and not have that manual labor required,” Beis aid.
“It is being evaluated as we speak.”