Man, tod­dler miss­ing af­ter Que­bec flood­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

MON­TREAL — More than 1,500 sol­diers hit the ground Mon­day to help Que­be­cers deal with “his­toric” flood­ing that has caused wide­spread dam­age and evac­u­a­tions and sparked a des­per­ate search for a man and a tod­dler whose ve­hi­cle sw­erved off a wa­ter­logged road into a surging river.

The heavy cur­rent pulled the car to­ward the Sainte-Anne River in eastern Que­bec and its oc­cu­pants fell into the wa­ter when the ve­hi­cle flipped, said pro­vin­cial po­lice Sgt. Claude Do­iron.

A woman who was in the car was able to save her­self.

“For now, there’s no ev­i­dence that has been found that can lead us to the dis­cov­ery of these two peo­ple,” said Do­iron.

He said the man was try­ing to help peo­ple who were trapped in the area.

A po­lice he­li­copter and divers were to help in the search, which con­tin­ued as Que­bec’s pub­lic se­cu­rity min­is­ter said wa­ter lev­els across the prov­ince were ex­pected to peak be­tween Mon­day and Wed­nes­day.

Au­thor­i­ties ex­pect the wa­ter to start re­ced­ing by mid-week, said Martin Coi­teux.

“What’s en­cour­ag­ing is that the wa­ter lev­els will stop climb­ing,” Coi­teux told a news con­fer­ence in Mon­treal. “It’s very im­por­tant to re­it­er­ate that. We are reach­ing max­i­mum lev­els.

“The wa­ter lev­els in the flooded ar­eas should start go­ing down Wed­nes­day. ”

Heavy rains and melt­ing snow­pack across Que­bec have so far flooded 2,426 res­i­dences in the prov­ince, forc­ing the evac­u­a­tion of 1,520 peo­ple in al­most 150 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“We’re talk­ing about his­toric lev­els of wa­ter,” said Que­bec En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter David Heur­tel. “We haven’t seen this in more than 55 years.”

Heur­tel said there were “en­cour­ag­ing signs” in the Ou­taouais re­gion, near the On­tario bor­der, where wa­ter lev­els were ris­ing more slowly than be­fore.

Na­tional De­fence said ap­prox­i­mately 800 ad­di­tional troops were de­ployed in the prov­ince on Sun­day, join­ing more than 400 Cana­dian Forces mem­bers al­ready as­sist­ing with the flood ef­fort.

About 1,650 sol­diers in all were ex­pected to be help­ing in the flood ef­fort by the end of the day Mon­day.

The troops, along with air­craft and a dozen boats, were aid­ing com­mu­ni­ties across Que­bec, sev­eral of which were un­der states of emer­gency, in­clud­ing Mon­treal and its north­ern sub­urbs.

“We are be­ing ready to be re­spon­sive in any form or shape that is re­quired to meet the task,” said Brig.Gen. Her­cule Gos­selin. In the western Que­bec com­mu­nity of Gatineau, 380 res­i­dences were evac­u­ated and fed­eral em­ploy­ees were ad­vised not to go to work Mon­day.

PAUL CHI­AS­SON, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ile Mercier, cov­ered in flood wa­ter, is seen on the Riv­iere des Prairies to the north of Mon­treal on Mon­day. The bridge lead­ing to the is­land is closed.

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