Ottawa to send aid to flood-stricken parts of Quebec; Laval under state of emergency
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 2:45PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 20, 2019 9:21AM EDT
With water levels rising in several parts of the province, the federal government will send assistance to flood-stricken areas in Quebec.
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted he had spoken to his provincial counterpart, Genevieve Guilbault on Friday.
At a news conference, Guilbault said the assistance will include the help of the Canadian Forces, though decisions have not yet been made on where they'll be deployed.
On Saturday, the Quebec public safety ministry said there is a high risk of flooding in several regions, including Outaouais, parts of the Island of Montreal, Monteregie, Centre-du-Quebec and Chaudiere-Appalaches.
The possibility of floods is high due to forecasts of heavy rain and the thawing of snow. Similar conditions led to severe flooding in much of the province in 2017.
Rigaud prepares for the worst
In Rigaud, officials warned residents living near the waterfront to leave their homes immediately on Thursday, saying those who don’t may not be rescued due to danger to firefighters and other personnel in flooded regions. As of Friday, officials said only five families in the danger zone had heeded their warning.
On Friday, officials said they believe the situation will escalate drastically within a day. In a statement, they said the city hall and disaster assistance area will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and the Red Cross has arrived to offer emergency supplies and shelter.
With four doors of the Carillon Dam open, water from Ontario is spilling into Quebec at up to triple the rate it normally does, meaning Hydro Quebec isn't able to stop the water from reaching low-lying areas.
"If we close the gates of the spillway, the situation will be worse," said Hydro Quebec spokesperson Maxence Huard-Lefebvre. "The water will go over the dam and this will be a very, very bad problem."
Resident Steve Kerr said the situation is very reminiscent of 2017, as once again neighbours are joining together to shovel and load sandbags.
"I was doing the same thing, but I was hauling sand to Pointe Fortune and working with the army," he said.
Preparations underway in Laval, Ahuntsic-Cartierville
In Laval and Ahuntsic-Cartierville residents were preparing for possible flooding, though water levels were not yet at problematic levels on Friday. Four sandbag loading sites were set up and a 24-hour disaster service centre was set up at Laval's Access service centre.
While flooding in Laval is not yet severe, the city is under a state of emergency, with Mayor Marc Demers warning that the situation is likely to get worse.
"The water that's coming from the Rivieres des Gatineau and Lake of Two Mountains, we have a rendez-vous with that water on Sunday," he said.
He added that emergency personnel are taking precautions to make sure everyone is aware of the severity of the situation.
"Our policemen and firemen are going door to door in those areas to advice people, if they don't have TV or Internet, of all the help they can get," he said. "They're making sure if people are in need... we'll take notes and visit them on a day-to-day basis."
Qazi Ajaz-Ahmed, who lives on Cousineau St in Ahuntsic., suffered severe damage to his home in 2017 and had to spend moer than $100,000 renovating his basement. He said he still has not been compensated by the government and worries the experience could repeat itself.
"We're very, very stressed," he said.
Nearby, other residents were filling and stacking sandbags to create a barrier against the water.
"We have to do it because the level of water is going up," said Oualid Kiroui. "We hope it's going to stop."