Evacuations, bridge closures ordered as flood waters swell across province
Published Saturday, April 27, 2019 8:25AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 29, 2019 9:12AM EDT
The latest: Flooding closed schools and bridges on Monday.
It was another busy day for firefighters and emergency services around Quebec as they scrambled to implement temporary measures to hold off rising, rushing flood waters.
Montreal police have created a map to keep drivers up-to-date about road closures, but rising flood waters are complicating off-island commutes as well.
On Sunday morning, Transport Quebec announced a partial closure of the Ile-aux-Tourtes Bridge in Senneville. Until further notice, one lane will be closed in each direction.
The bridge was placed on watch Saturday afternoon, when frontline workers were dispatched to install concrete dikes to keep rising water from spilling over onto the highway.
The Galipeault Bridge in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue - a major western link to the Island of Montreal - closed indefinitely on Saturday due to safety concerns prompted by rising water levels.
The closure leaves the nearly eleven thousand residents of Île-Perrot and other nearby communities with a significant detour via highways 20 and 30.
"The train will be free from Vaudreuil to the downtown for the weekdays as long as the bridge is closed," said Gilles Payer of Transports Quebec.
Transport Quebec also announced that the toll on Highway 30 has been removed temporarily - until the bridge reopens to traffic - to facilitate travel.
Environment Canada's rainfall warning was lifted for the Island of Montreal, Chateauguay - La Prairie, Laval, and Longueuil - Varennes - but Public Security officials still expect flood levels to rise.
Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Laval begin emergency evacuations
On Saturday evening at around 8 p.m., a dike burst in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, forcing thousands from their homes.
The Surete du Quebec sent over 50 officers to the area, which is 40 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
Earlier in the day, the City of Laval ordered the evacuation of residents in the southeastern part of Ile Verte on Comtois St.
In a statement, the city indicated that essential emergency services could no longer be provided to that part of the island.
Laval is just the latest municipality to either order an evacuation or declare a state of emergency because of flooding.
On Saturday afternoon, Vaudreuil-Dorion also joined that list.
Province-wide, 3,584 residents have been evacuated as of Saturday evening, according to Urgence Quebec.
Montreal, Ottawa and many smaller communities across the expansive flood zone declared states of emergency, prompting the federal government to deploy hundreds of soldiers to help with sandbagging and other relief operations.
More rain forecast for flood-weary communities in Quebec and beyond
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters during a press conference Saturday that heavy rainfall and exceptional weather conditions have caused at least 50 landslides throughout Quebec.
Guilbault called for caution - particularly urging motorists to follow safety precautions and detours in areas where roads have been closed.
More rain is in the forecast for an area stretching from cottage country north of Toronto, all the way east through Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Officials estimate the Ottawa River will rise nearly a metre over the next few days, well above its peak in a 2017 flood that was thought to have been a once-a-century event.
A close eye is also being kept on a hydroelectric dam, on a tributary of the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal, that's at risk of failing.
Water at the Chute-Bell dam has reached levels expected once every 1,000 years, but Hydro-Quebec says it's confident the structure is solid.
Environment Canada forecast significant rainfall - 30 to 60 millimetres in addition to run-off from melting snow - but lifted the rainfall warning just before noon on Saturday.
In a statement, municipal authorities recognized that the water accumulation will likely weaken temporary walls and dikes.
Borough Mayors commend volunteers for rallying in times of need
Mayor Jim Beis took to social media Saturday afternoon to announce that Pierrefonds has officially exceeded its water levels recorded during the 2017 floods.
"We are now at 9000 m3/s, and everything indicates that the level and flow of the Riviere des Prairies will increase significantly in the next 24 to 48 hours," Beis wrote in a Facebook post.
"Despite the levels reached in 2017, the current situation in 2019 in Pierrefonds-Roxboro is very different!" Beis explained. "As of today, we have only 5 evacuees, compared to about 100 families evacuated in 2017 with the same levels."
Beis added that the state of preparation reflected by the numbers is the result of "colossal efforts" made by teams in the field.
"Let us remain united, resilient and vigilant. The next few hours and days will not be easy, but rather challenging," he wrote.
But the yearly flooding has some mayors frustrated.
"It's time we change something," said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue mayor Paolo Hawa. "We can't keep on living like this. Every couple of years we get floods, people mobilize. It's great to see community spirit but at some point, somebody is going to have to find a solution."
(With files from CJAD 800, The Canadian Press)