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Evacuations underway in Laurentian towns as dike threatens to burst

A Sûreté du Québec spokesperson said police are helping residents evacuate. (Lynda Paradis/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A Sûreté du Québec spokesperson said police are helping residents evacuate. (Lynda Paradis/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Quebec's Public Security Ministry is ordering the preventive evacuation of two towns in the Laurentians due to the risk of a dike failing.

Residents of Chute-Saint-Philippe and Lac-des-Écorces who live along the Kiamika and Lièvre rivers must vacate immediately, said the ministry.

The Jacques-Lesage sports centre, in Mont-Laurier, Que., at 801 rue Alix, is welcoming evacuees. Officials have requested that those staying elsewhere inform their municipality of where they are going.

Residents should anticipate that they will not have access to their homes for the next five days, Urgence Québec said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

As of 9 a.m. on Monday, 90 per cent of households in Chute-Saint-Philippe that needed to be evacuated had been, authorities said a news conference. About 1,000 people were displaced.

The Environment Ministry, which is responsible for the dike, says a routine inspection last week revealed the dam's stability might be compromised, likely because of internal erosion. Emergency work is due to start today, said Joshua Ménard Suarez, a spokesperson for the Public Security Ministry.

According to the Environment Ministry's website, the Morier dike was built in 1954. It is 16 metres high and has a storage capacity of more than 382 billion litres — enough to fill more than 100,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Marc Tessier said police and firefighters are going door to door to give people information, and evacuated areas will still be patrolled.

Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said he was aware of the alert in force.