Water world: Canadians battle flooding everywhere
Thousands of Canadians across the country spent the weekend in a desperate struggle with rising floodwaters caused by unusually persistent rainfall.
Quebec has been hardest hit, with nearly 1,900 flooded homes in roughly 130 municipalities, from the Ontario border in the west, to the Gaspé Peninsula.
National Defence said in a release that approximately 800 additional troops were deployed in Quebec on Sunday, joining more than 400 Canadian Armed Forces members already assisting with the flood effort in the province.
The troops, along with aircraft and 12 boats from the Naval Reserve, were being positioned to aid communities across Quebec, several of which are under a state of emergency, it said in a release.
On Sunday, Montreal became the latest Quebec city to declare a state of emergency after three dikes gave way in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough, in the north end of the city by the Rivières des Prairies.
Canadian Forces Capt. Frederick Lavoie was overseeing 35 army reservists bagging sand and helping to save houses along the river in Pierrefonds.
His men, all from the Montreal area, took over from a regular forces unit Sunday morning and “couldn’t wait to get their hands dirty and feet wet,” Lavoie said.
There should be up to 100 reservists helping in the borough by Tuesday, he added.
“We are here to serve the civilian power,” Lavoie said. “The main thing we can do is save houses from being flooded. And it’s always good to have people on the ground to reassure the population.”
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said about 220 people in the city had to leave their homes.
He said officials were prepared to remove people if they refused to comply with evacuation orders.
“I understand that morally or psychologically, physically, mentally, people are very, very tried. We’re talking 24 hours in a row of people helping each other,” Coderre told reporters. “But sometimes we need to protect people from themselves.”
Coderre said officials are warning water levels could rise another 20 centimetres in the next 24 hours.
Donald McElligott was standing outside his home near the Rivières des Prairies in Pierrefonds, where a steady stream of water was leaking out of his garage.
A few feet away, several large, white bags of sand were acting as a dam, blocking off what used to be the entrance to the shore of the river.
“Right now I’m worried,” he said. “My wife was born in this house.”
West of Montreal, the small town of Rigaud issued a mandatory evacuation order Sunday and a state of emergency has been in place for several days.
Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. told reporters at a town hall that firefighters will be going door to door to make sure people in the affected areas leave their homes.
“We will follow the fire department and actually remove the people if need be,” Gruenwald said. “Because it is either that or services will be stuck to remove those people under a state of emergency at 2 o’clock in the morning on a stretcher — I’m sorry but we are not going to go there.”
Lt.-Col. Pascal Larose said about 400 members of the Canadian Forces were deployed between Gatineau and Rigaud, and another 550 in the Montreal area including its northern suburb of Laval.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the situation in Ontario seems to be “generally stabilizing,” although there are many unstable local circumstances, he said.
Goodale said the Ontario government had requested “emergency materials” to help in its battle against the flooding and said that support would be provided.
Rob Kuhn, an Environment Canada meteorologist said eastern Ontario saw the most rainfall in the province. He added that upward of 80 millimetres of rain fell between Friday and Sunday morning in the Trenton area. In Atlantic Canada, some parts of New Brunswick recorded 150 millimetres of rain after a nearly 36-hour downpour.
Members of a family are helped with some belongings after their home was evacuated Sunday in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds.
A military vehicle drives along a flooded street Sunday in Gatineau, Que.