State of emergency declared in Montreal as Quebec flooding continues
Some 1,200 military personnel are assisting in the flood response
Three people are missing and a man has reportedly died after after heavy flooding covered parts of the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia.
The man was driving with his 2-year-old child in the Gaspésie area of Quebec when powerful flood waters pushed their vehicle off the road, said Scott Bardsley, the spokesman for the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ministry.
“They got on the roof of the car but were swept away,” Public Safety Canada spokesman Dan Brien said.
National broadcaster CBC later reported that the body of the man had been found and the search for the toddler was continuing. The man’s wife had also been traveling in the car and survived after clinging to a tree branch when the current flipped the car, according to the CBC.
In British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a local fire chief went missing after a swollen river swept him away in Cash Creek, B.C. An elderly man is also missing after a mudslide enveloped his home in Tappen, B.C.
“This is the heaviest rainfall we have seen in over 50 years,” Brien said.
Bardsley said that approximately 2,800 residents had voluntarily left their homes and there had been mandatory evacuations in the Quebec Municipalities of Pontiac, Rigaud and Montreal.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale said said there had been 1,520 evacuees in Quebec province.
Canadian Armed Forces deployed 1,200 personnel over the past weekend, and an additional 300 personnel are on their way, he said. Some additional 150 support personnel will back up the troops.
Dikes, dams weakened
Montreal’s mayor has declared a state of emergency as rising flood waters threaten dikes and breakwaters and force residents from their homes in parts of the province of Quebec.
In a statement on Sunday announcing the 48-hour state of emergency, the city of Montreal said forecasts suggested that the situation would not be short-lived.
At least 180 homes had been evacuated, the city said, and the Red Cross was providing shelter to those residents forced out.
“Montreal is in the middle of an exceptional and historic circumstance owing to an unprecedented rise in water levels causing flooding. The safety of residents remains our biggest priority, and that’s why I declared the state of emergency,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said.
“I ask all residents affected by the flooding to collaborate by following the recommendations and abiding by the decisions made now and as we move forward. I strongly urge residents of Île Mercier and other residents whose safety cannot be ensured by emergency services to comply with the evacuation order,” he said.
The state of emergency applies to the areas of Ahuntsic–Cartierville; Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève; Pierrefonds-Roxboro; Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue; and Senneville.
Laval state of emergency
A state of emergency was also declared in the city of Laval, north of Montreal, by Mayor Marc Demers.
“We applaud the concerted efforts of everyone helping out on site who are sparing no energy to come to the assistance of the flood victims; however, considering all possible impacts on Laval residents’ safety and their belongings, we are declaring a local state of emergency today in order to make sure that no resources will be neglected to provide all help requested,” Mayor Demers said in a statement.
Emergency workers went door-to-door Sunday advising residents of Laval’s Île-Verte and Île-Roussin to evacuate.
CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy said rain was forecast to continue falling over eastern Canada for the next five days.
“They could see upwards of another 25 to 50 mm of rain (1 to 2 inches) with localized heavier amounts possible up to 75 mm (3 inches). So unfortunately – not much relief in sight,” Guy said.
He said some radar estimates showed that the region had already had 250 to 350 mm of rain (10 to 14 inches) over the past week.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page Sunday, Mayor Coderre paid tribute to those working together to protect Montreal.
“Thank you to all our services and our personnel who are dedicated body and souls for our citizens. Thank you to our firefighters, blue collar workers, white collar workers, police officers, district directors, those responsible for water supplies, etc.. for your magnificent contribution, Solidarity and Professionalism. Thank you also to our Armed Forces for their presence and expertise,” he wrote in French.
Coderre said the situation was under control and the emergency response would be adapted to meet any changes in circumstance.
An additional 800 troops joined more than 400 personnel in the Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Shawinigan, Laval and Gatineau areas Sunday, according to a statement from the Canadian Armed Forces. Aviation assets, engineer assets, and 12 boats from the Naval Reserve, were also involved in the emergency response, it said.