Man, toddler missing after Quebec flooding
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.
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.