Heavy rain likely to cause new or more flood­ing

Cana­dian Forces en­listed to help with cri­sis in Que­bec

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MICHELLE MCQUIGGE

Per­sis­tent, steady rains soak­ing swaths of Cen­tral and Eastern Canada that have al­ready en­dured record pre­cip­i­ta­tion lev­els threat­ened to trig­ger wide­spread flood­ing Fri­day and put res­i­dents and gov­ern­ments on high alert.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada said a mas­sive sys­tem was slowly drench­ing much of On­tario, Que­bec and the Mar­itimes, trig­ger­ing ev­ery­thing from con­tin­gency plans and flood warn­ings to states of emer­gency in dozens of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

In Mon­treal, Que­bec Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Martin Coi­teux said Cana­dian Forces per­son­nel have been en­listed to help cope with the cri­sis in the prov­ince.

“Con­sid­er­ing what I’ve told you — that the sit­u­a­tion will de­te­ri­o­rate in the com­ing days, that the wa­ter lev­els in many Que­bec re­gions are com­pa­ra­ble to the largest floods we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced here ... I think ad­di­tional re­sources are ap­pro­pri­ate,” Coi­teux told a news con­fer­ence.

“That’s why I spoke to­day to Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale and asked for re­in­force­ments from the Cana­dian Forces.”

The prov­ince’s en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, David Heur­tel, said the rain fore­cast is for his­toric lev­els.

“It goes be­yond the worst sce­nar­ios that have oc­curred in the last 55 years,” he said.

It is not known how many sol­diers will be in­volved or when they will ar­rive.

Se­nior cli­ma­tol­o­gist David Phillips said the weather sys­tem, which stretches down as far as the south­ern United States, is stalled over the vast re­gion due to high pres­sure sys­tems else­where in the coun­try.

The re­sult, he said, is re­lent­less rain fall­ing on re­gions that have al­ready en­dured dou­ble to triple the sea­sonal norms for rain­fall over the past five weeks.

“The amount of mois­ture is sig­nif­i­cant,” he said of the sit­u­a­tion. “And, of course, when that falls on what you’ve al­ready had, it makes it more of an im­pact­ful storm than it would be.”

The prob­lem is par­tic­u­larly acute in Que­bec, where 132 com­mu­ni­ties had been af­fected by the floods as of Fri­day af­ter­noon and some 700 peo­ple have been forced to aban­don their homes.

For the res­i­dents of Île Mercier, a small is­land in the mid­dle of the Rivière des Prairies off the north­ern end of Mon­treal, ris­ing wa­ter lev­els meant they could no longer cross their only bridge by car.

“The wa­ter is up to your knees on the bridge,” said Nello Dicaprio, who has lived on the is­land for 11 years and de­cided to re­main in the chalet he rents. “I’ve spo­ken to peo­ple who have crossed. They say the wa­ter is very cold and there is a cur­rent.”

Dicaprio said he would wait out the sit­u­a­tion and hoped the wa­ter lev­els would re­cede — but he only had enough food for a few more days and there are no stores on the tiny is­land.

Jean-François Blais, who lives in cen­tral Que­bec and had also been af­fected by the floods, called for more govern­ment help.

“It’s des­o­la­tion, it’s re­ally des­o­la­tion,” Blais told a news con­fer­ence in Ya­machiche, Que., along­side var­i­ous politi­cians.

“We need help now and we will need help when these waters have left. There will be an enor­mous cleanup and we need help. That’s ob­vi­ous.”

As­sur­ances of as­sis­tance came quickly from Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau dur­ing a sched­uled stop in Mon­treal.

Mean­while, res­i­dents of the Mar­itimes were be­ing warned to ex­pect a long stretch of heavy rain start­ing Satur­day.

In par­tic­u­lar, south­west­ern New Brunswick was ex­pected to see the worst of it, with up to 100 mil­lime­tres of rain in the fore­cast.

In On­tario, the eastern com­mu­nity of Clarence-Rock­land al­ready de­clared a state of emer­gency in an­tic­i­pa­tion of heavy rain ex­pected to last through the weekend.

Phillips said that in places like Ot­tawa, rain is ex­pected to lead to flood­ing in the com­ing days.

The same holds true for Toronto, which an­nounced a con­tin­gency plan to close the heav­ily trav­elled Don Val­ley Park­way if wa­ter in the Don River rises too high.

RYAN REMIORZ, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Res­i­dents use a ca­noe to bring sup­plies through flooded streets of the Île-Mercier district of Île-Bizard, Que.

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