Flooding continues to plague parts of Quebec after rainy start to week

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Flooding continues to plague parts of Quebec after rainy start to week

After a rainy April, the month of May doesn't seem to be bringing reprieve for areas of Quebec experiencing flooding.

Many people living in Rigaud, about 30 kilometres west of the island of Montreal, are being urged to leave their homes for the second time in as many weeks, due to concerns about rising water levels.

Mayor Hans Gruenwald said about 300 homes are in areas that could be seriously affected by flooding in the coming days.

Despite that, he said he isn't planning to declare another state of emergency because all the mechanisms to help residents are in place.

"It's not a surprise. We've been telling them since Friday that this new situation is present and it's coming, slowly but surely," he said.

Gruenwald said the municipality is focusing on persuading residents in the affected areas to leave their homes voluntarily.

Heavy rains mean the Ottawa River is rising once again, less than a week after a state of emergency was lifted in the town six days after it was declared, when all signs pointed to flood conditions improving.

While the situation is in flux, about 35 people have been out of their homes since the state of emergency was first declared on April 20.

Gruenwald said the only way the town would declare a state of emergency is if the minister of public security issues an order to get residents out of their homes.

The river isn't as high as it was when the town declared a state of emergency, but Gruenwald said he's been told the water is going to continue to rise — and rise quickly.

More rain on the way

The inundation follows one of the wettest Aprils on record, with regional rainfall records set in many places across Quebec — and the rain isn't going to let up any time soon.

Another system is heading toward Quebec and will result in more rain on Friday.

"We're waiting for it, we're ready," Gruenwald said, adding that they've held sessions to inform the population about the situation and made an extra 6,000 sandbags available to residents who need them.

Rigaud resident Luc Laperrière's home has been spared for now, but he's worried.

"I don't know what's going to happen this weekend because they're forecasting rain. It's only Tuesday morning, and the water has come back," he said.

In spite of everything, Gruenwald said Rigaud's residents are in as good spirits as can be expected.

The public works department, fire department and the Red Cross are all on standby should the situation worsen, he said.

A 24/7 emergency line is active, the Red Cross is equipped to make meals, and a school bus will be available to shuttle people from their homes to dry land.

Gruenwald said some streets are 30 to 80 centimetres deep in water, so while the houses themselves are fine, the roads are inaccessible, at least to those travelling in small cars.

Gruenwald said he believes many residents aren't insured against flooding, but they have met with ministry officials on the ground to see what kind of compensation they're eligible for.

West Island municipality sees high water

The Montreal Island suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue has also experienced flooding, but so far, no damage has been reported. 

A portion of the boardwalk is flooded, and the city has handed out some sandbags to prevent water damage.

Marianne Gehlsen has been watching the water levels closely from her home.

"Last night was pretty close, we thought we might have to go next door, but we're ok," she said.

Minister preaches patience

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux was in Shawinigan, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, this morning to offer his support to residents.

The water in that city is also rising, and Coiteux asked that residents be patient because the situation likely won't improve anytime soon.

Coiteux reiterated that the government is offering financial help to residents affected by the flooding.

Representatives on the ground have the forms that have to be filled out to make an application for the funding.

Coiteux said he would wait until the situation calmed before giving numbers on how many claims have been made.

Thomas Blanchet, spokesperson for the provincial civil security department, said authorities are keeping a close watch on the several large bodies of water in the Laval, Outaouais, Laurentians, Lanaudière, and Mauricie regions that have already flooded.

Related stories: 

- Row, row, row your boat...to school in Rigaud