Quebec’s public security minister says flood situation improving gradually

Quebec’s public security minister says flood situation improving gradually

MONTREAL — Flood levels are gradually dropping in Quebec, particularly in the western part of the province, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said Tuesday.

But Coiteux said Quebecers must be realistic and realize things will not return to normal for sometime.

“We have to be patient,” he told a news conference. “The situation won’t improve overnight. It will happen on a very gradual basis. We have major flooding in several areas and, gradually, the floods will become average and then minor.

“We are headed toward a drop in the water levels which will be complete only at the end of the month. We don’t control the weather, so it’s conditional on that. But we’re headed toward improvement.”

So far, the heavy rains and melting snowpack across Quebec have flooded 2,733 residences in Quebec, forcing the evacuation of 1,940 people in 171 municipalities.

The floods have claimed at least one life in the province — Mike Gagnon, 37, whose car ended up in a surging river in the eastern Gaspe region.

Authorities were still searching for a two-year-old girl who disappeared in the same incident.

About 1,650 soldiers are helping municipal and provincial officials in Quebec.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the federal government will pay for the military-related costs.

“When Canadians are facing natural disasters or serious issues, we pull together, that’s who we are,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.

“Quebec and Ontario asked for military support and we’re happy to give it and of course the federal government will assume all the costs related to support for Quebec and Ontario in these floods.”

Premier Philippe Couillard, who attended the Montreal news conference, said he understands the frustration many people are feeling.

“First, I want to tell people affected by the floods…that it’s very, very terrible,” he said. “I can understand the anxiety, the angst people feel right now. I would feel the same, even some anger, if it were my home being affected the way I’ve seen certain homes being affected.”

Couillard also reiterated his call for Quebecers to donate money to help flood victims.

The provincial government is contributing $500,000 to the Canadian Red Cross fund and the City of Montreal is intending to kick in $250,000.

The premier said he donated money on Tuesday morning.

Quebec’s national assembly will not sit Tuesday, allowing members to stay in their respective ridings an extra day, while Montreal’s agglomeration council voted to extend the state of emergency in the area by five days.

The Canadian Press

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