Quebec extends state of emergency in Saguenay, Que., because of landslide threat

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Officials in Saguenay, Que., secured a perimeter around a neighbourhood at risk of landslides Tuesday and tried to ensure that residents forced from their homes had places to stay.

City spokesman Dominic Arseneau said private security guards and police will conduct patrols in the La Baie district, adding that flood lights will be installed to deter thieves from entering unoccupied residences. People are being asked to avoid the area because of safety risks, he added.

Authorities said Tuesday that 192 residents had been relocated from 76 homes in the Saguenay neighbourhood after a landslide destroyed a house last week. The city declared a state of emergency over the weekend and ordered the area evacuated.

The evacuation order, Arseneau said, is likely to remain for many weeks or even months.

"The experts have said the ground will move and ... we are in a race against nature. We have to find a way to stabilize the ground before the next landslide happens," Arseneau said.

"There will be another landslide if we don't do anything. We just don't know when or the magnitude."

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault tweeted late Monday afternoon that she signed a decree allowing Saguenay to extend a state of emergency. The emergency order is renewable every five days and allows the city to take decisions more quickly on matters such as tendering contracts, requisitioning property and redirecting traffic.

On Tuesday, the city launched a website on which residents can offer shelter to people affected by the evacuation. People can also use the website to offer appliances or furniture. The city has also set up a phone line for displaced people.

The province has said each person who was forced from their home will receive $20 a day for living expenses, and the government will also offer up to $260,000 to those who won't be able to return to their homes.

About 30 people are living in hotels. Others have found shelter elsewhere, including with friends or at secondary residences.

Arseneau said evacuees have different needs. Some are couples, some live alone, while others are families with children. Some also have pets, he said.

Quebec Premier François Legault has announced he will visit the affected area, about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City, on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2022.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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