Quebec floods: water levels down but heavy rain expected on the weekend

Quebec floods: water levels down but heavy rain expected on the weekend

MONTREAL — While water levels have continued their slow decline in some parts of Quebec, the province’s environment minister is warning the situation could deteriorate this weekend because of heavy rain.

David Heurtel said the central Quebec region of Mauricie is expected to bear the brunt of the precipitation.

“We’re looking at considerable rainfall on the weekend,” Heurtel told a news conference Wednesday.

“Depending on the region, we’re talking about 20 to 40 millimetres but in Mauricie the impact will be even greater, so we should expect another tough weekend there.”

Heurtel said the combination of rain, melting snow in the St-Maurice River basin and rising tides could prove to be damaging in the region.

Levels are expected to remain stable in flooded areas in the Greater Montreal area, where Heurtel credited the management of water flow from the Ottawa River and Great Lakes basins with preventing the situation from getting worse.

Weekend rain isn’t expected to cause a spike in Montreal-area water levels, Heurtel said.

“The flow will continue decreasing and ultimately the rains that are going to come are going to slow down the decrease,” Heurtel said.

“We’re not looking at the rainfall rising the levels. It’s going to slow down the decrease or it’s going to be maintained at the same levels.”

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux told the same news conference that 3,882 residences in the province have now been affected by the floods.

Coiteux also said 2,721 people have had to leave their homes and that there have been 126 landslides.

In Montreal, fire Chief Bruno Lachance said the focus is on consolidating dams and that he doesn’t expect the number of evacuees to rise.

A state of emergency remains in effect in Montreal until Sunday, with Lachance saying 243 people have been evacuated and about 400 homes flooded in the city.

“We know it will take days before it recedes totally — maybe weeks,” he said. “We ask people to be patient, we’re going to help them when the time comes, (but) for the moment, we’re still in an emergency situation.”

At least one person has died in the province because of the floods — a man whose car ended up in a surging river in the eastern Gaspe region on Sunday. Authorities were still still searching Wednesday for a two-year-old girl who disappeared in the same incident.

The number of soldiers helping in the flood effort is expected to rise by 600 to 2,300 by the end of Wednesday.

Given the situation, the military has cancelled a number of events, including an air show and a military concert, linked to Montreal’s 375th birthday celebrations.

The Canadian Red Cross has also set up a relief fund, with the federal government contributing $1 million and the Quebec government $500,000.

Other Quebec municipalities have also contributed, notably Montreal, which has pledged $250,000.

The Canadian Press
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