Montreal declares state of emergency as floods worsen throughout region
Published Friday, April 26, 2019 2:02PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 27, 2019 8:25AM EDT
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has declared a state of emergency as the city struggles with flooding.
The Pierrefonds, Ile Bizard and Ahuntsic sectors are the most affected.
The Plante administration said the state of emergency was called because flooding and rain are expected to continue this weekend. This gives the city powers to buy supplies without prior executive committee approval and to forcibly remove people from their homes if necessary.
Raising the alert level also means that Montreal's fire chief can make decisions on expenses without requiring the approval of city council and can force evacuations if necessary.
Montreal fire chief Bruno Lachance says measures taken since flooding began have limited the damage compared with record floods in 2017.
Lachance says declaring a state of emergency -- which was last done in May of 2017 -- will give officials some room to manoeuvre should things get out of hand.
A state of emergency was also declared in Ottawa Thursday by Mayor Jim Watson, prompting military aid and a visit by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
In Gatineau, Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin has told his citizens to prepare for the worst, adding that that by Monday or Tuesday, they should exceed the highest levels of 2017 in the region.
The number of victims across the province is rising: 3,017 homes are currently flooded, 2,736 are isolated by water and 1,7960 residents have evacuated thier homes.
Laval, Rigaud residents asked to leave homes
Rising water levels in Rigaud and Laval have prompted officials in both areas to suggest people evacuate their homes.
The fire chief in Rigaud, Daniel Boyer, said Friday that the current forecast calls for water on Sunday to be higher than they were in 2017, primarily due to rainfall and rapid snowmelt up north.
Environment Canada said areas west and north of Rigaud could see up to 60 mm of rain fall on Friday and Saturday, which would translate into a rise in the rivers and streams on Sunday and Monday.
Boyer said more than 100 families were still in homes that were on flooded properties, while many roads in Rigaud were washed out.
He said that people would not be forced out of their homes, but that if they needed help, they would be on their own.
"We're not just evacuating a building, we're evacuating an entire region so it's not possible to just shut tight that particular area," said Boyer.
He said that in 2017 many people came back to their homes after an evacuation order, and Boyer said officials were not going to play "cat and mice" again.
Sureté du Quebec officer Dan Thibaudeau said many people were expecting they could sit tight and hold out.
"They've been through worse, they can weather it. Right now maybe they're not as affected, they're pumping out, but they don't see what's coming down and the levels are pretty alarming," said Thibaudeau.
Meanwhile rising water along the edges of Lake of Two Mountains prompted the building of dikes near the Ile aux Tourtes bridge.
Traffic along Highway 40 is slowing down because in some points water is getting onto the highway, but the dike should stop that.
On Friday the city of Laval issued an evacuation order for many people living along the northern edge of the city.
"It's a matter of safety," said Laval Mayor Marc Demers. "We are doing our best to make all services available on those islands but we cannot make sure that it will be possible within the next few days. It's difficult to know what the situation will be."
- With files from La presse canadienne