Quebec water levels slow to drop
The situation in flood-stricken Quebec appeared to improve slightly on Friday as the provincial government reported a drop in water levels in some areas and downgraded a forecast for weekend rain.
But water levels are still expected to rise in the central Quebec region of Mauricie and they remain high in some large lakes, Environment Minister David Heurtel told a news conference.
He said the Mauricie region will likely get 20 to 25 millimetres of rain over the weekend instead of the 59 millimetres officials had feared earlier this week.
“Our models nevertheless indicate an increase (in water levels) but not as large as expected,” he said.
Premier Philippe Couillard said he was hoping the situation wouldn’t deteriorate over the weekend.
“We will breathe a sigh of relief on Monday if we haven’t had massive rain and heavy overflow,” he said at the sidelines of an event in Montreal.
“In the meantime, we’re crossing our fingers.”
More than 4,480 residences have been affected by flooding and over 3,600 people have been evacuated.
The city of Rigaud, west of Montreal, warned that citizens who refuse the town’s evacuation order could face fines of up to $5,000.
Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. said about 19 people have refused to leave their homes and have been notified that they could face penalties.
“They’re being told something by their community and they have to listen, and if they don’t there are consequences,” he told reporters.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said that compensation for flood victims will be reviewed and likely increased in some areas.
He said municipalities that haven’t been affected by flooding would lend technical expertise, human resources and equipment to help with cleanup efforts.
“We’re preparing the recovery phase that will start earlier in the western areas (of the province),” he said.
As flood waters continued to recede in Montreal, fire Chief Bruno Lachance warned citizens of the dangers they could face when returning home.
“There are still some risks in the homes, (such as) electrical risks, natural gas, structure,” he said, adding residents should contact the city for help with inspections.
Two soldiers sit on a dam built along the Riviere des Prairies in the Pierrefonds borough of Montreal, Friday.