Authorities monitor water levels as rain adds to spring flooding woes

Rain has been falling across much of the province today, adding yet more water to the already swollen rivers that have flooded thousands of properties this spring.

In Île-Perrot, officials say water levels in the Lake of Two Mountains may rise further on Thursday and Friday and have asked residents in at-risk areas to prepare for a potential evacuation.

Île Bizard issued a boil-water advisory for residents of Paquin, Roy, Monique, Sacré-Cœur and Jean-Yves streets. Officials say residents of Île Mercier and Parc Wilson should not drink tap water until further notice.

In Laval, authorities are closely watching the Île-Bigras bridge, which will need to be closed if flood waters continue to rise. 

The city has already sent across fuel and provisions in case the small island community is cut off from mainland Laval.

Urgence Québec warned residents across the province that the expected precipitation, coupled with melting snow in northerly regions, could lead to a rise in water levels.

Here are the latest numbers, according to the agency:

  • Around 2,500 homes flooded across the province.
  • More than 2,000 homes isolated due to flooding, making them inaccessible.
  • In some regions, flooding has closed roads and caused power outages.

There are 12 regions affected by the flooding, with the most flooded homes in the Laurentians, followed by the Beauce region and the Mauricie.

Light rain fell throughout the day in southern Quebec, and more rain is expected later in the week.

Close to 1,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in flooded areas, helping to load sandbags, build dikes and divert water away from properties.

Some 430 reservists have been deployed in Sherbrooke, Que., lending a hand to civil authorities where needed, filling sand bags, building retaining walls and assisting with evacuations.

Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

Snow blowers to the rescue

Soldiers are also helping out on Montreal's Île Bizard, just off the northwestern tip of Montreal, installing sandbags and building makeshift dikes.

Municipal employees are using snow blowers to churn up the water creeping up Jean-Yves Street, blasting it back into the Rivière des Prairies.

Île Bizard was hard hit by spring flooding in 2017, but this year, being prepared has helped stave off the worst. 

Residents have told CBC the non-stop snow blowers appear to have helped keep water levels down.

'My house, I do not want to lose it'

Upstream from the Lake of Two Mountains, about 20 soldiers are in Saint-André-d'Argenteuil, Que., to help the municipality guard against spring floods.

The town of 3,000 is facing a double threat this year, as both the Ottawa and North rivers are swollen to dangerous levels.

The swollen Ottawa River has already flooded the basement of 72-year-old Ida Chénier, 72, who lives in a small house on Fournier Street.

"My house, I do not want to lose it," said Chénier, emotion in her voice.

It's a house full of memories, she said, as she bought it in 1979 with her brother, who then died in an accident two weeks later. His insurance paid half of the mortgage.

"He gave me that," she said.

In 40 years, she said the house has only flooded twice — in 2017 and this year.

"What we fear the most is the increase in the level and flow of the North River," said Saint-André-d'Argenteuil Mayor Marc-Olivier Labelle.

In 2017, the North River didn't overflow its banks, but now it looks like that could happen.

The worst may still be on the way because spring flooding usually comes in two waves, said Labelle, recalling the two-week span between the first and second floods of 2017.

But to know when the second flood will hit is "very difficult to predict," the mayor said.

"We anticipate a similar situation this year," he said. "The amount of snow north of the Ottawa River watershed is significant."