‘We’re ready’: Montreal on flood alert as spring melt and rain raise water levels

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Montreal on flood alert as spring melt, rain raise water levels
WATCH: The City of Montreal is closely monitoring water levels around the island for possible flooding. With more rain in the forecast, officials are calling on home owners in at-risk areas to prepare for the worst. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Apr 17, 2023

After balmy weather over the weekend, Montrealers are bracing for rain and the risk of spring flooding.

The agglomeration has been on flood alert since Sunday with officials monitoring water levels around the island.

The warm temperatures over the last few days have led to rapid snow-melt and with rain in the forecast, flows are expected to rise over the next 48 hours.

“On April 16, water flows and levels were on the rise and reached the threshold for minor floods at the Carillon dam,” the city said in a news release Sunday.

Environment Canada said the Montreal area could see between 10 and 15 millimetres of rain on Monday, with more expected throughout the week.

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Areas bordering the Lac des Deux Montagnes, Lac St-Louis and the Rivière des Prairies could “experience various levels of flooding due to the spring freshet,” the new release reads.

One of those at-risk areas, and no stranger to spring flooding, is the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro.

“What’s projected in the next 48 hours is believed to be a significant increase on the riverfront and the flow on the river,” said borough mayor Jim Beis.

Meanwhile, Mayor Valérie Plante took to social media on Sunday to reassure residents.

“Every year, it’s a stressful time for local residents,” she wrote. “We are ready and will be there to support them.”

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Beis reaffirmed that message on Monday.

“We have started the production of our sandbags that will protect and compliment our modular system,” he told Global News.

He added that divers are on standby to block off storm drains should waters reach critical levels.

The borough was among the hardest-hit areas in Montreal during spring floods in 2017 and 2019.

Martin Guilbault with Montreal’s fire department says the city is on alert as the risk of flooding is at its highest since 2019.

With the agglomeration of Montreal on alert mode, resources — be they material, financial or human — can be quickly deployed to respond to an emergency.

That means the cleanup of branches and trees littering the streets and parks after the April 5 ice storm might have to wait.

“The branch pickup is going to stop,” Beis said. “All of that regular business when we are in a moment of potential crisis stops, so we can devote all our resources to protect our community.”

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Officials, however, are reminding residents that protecting private property is not the borough’s responsibility.

“The borough has mobilized its resources to put in place mitigation measures on the field to protect vulnerable areas and public infrastructures,” the Pierrefonds-Roxboro website reads.

“We are counting on our citizens to prepare accordingly to protect their private property in the event of a flood.”

In practical terms, residents in at-risk areas should have equipment such as submersible pumps, valves, sandbags and window caulking at the ready.

The borough also recommends monitoring communications from the city and to have an evacuation plan in place.

“Plan a location where you and your family can stay temporarily in case of evacuation.”

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Alain Vaillancourt, Montreal’s executive committee member responsible for public security, also emphasized the importance of being prepared.

“I know people are worried,” he said during a Monday morning press conference.

“I would be too if I lived on the shoreline, however, the best way to reduce the anxiety is to prepare.”

The fire department is also warning residents who live near the water to pack emergency kits that can sustain them for three days in case they need to evacuate.

That being said, Vaillancourt said the situation was under control.

“We’re more preparing in case of floods,” he said. “Currently, the homeowners are OK.

“We’re ready if the floodwaters go up.”

— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press

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