Rigaud residents told to evacuate now, as flooding could be more severe than in 2017

The City of Rigaud, near the Quebec-Ontario border, is telling residents to pack up and leave their homes over the next 24 hours, as Thursday and Friday will bring heavy rains, and the resulting floods could be worse than in the spring of 2017.

Marie Andrée Gagnon, a spokesperson for the municipality on the Ottawa River, west of Montreal, said flooding will crescendo over the next four days and will worsen quickly once it starts.

"Almost all the houses that are near the water will be flooded or will have water [damage]," Gagnon said.

Environment Canada says 25 to 50 millimetres of rain is expected to fall in the region over Thursday and Friday, and the still-frozen ground has a limited ability to absorb it. More rain is forecast for the weekend.

Pointe-Fortune also to be hard hit

When flooding hit the area in 2017, some 441 families were advised to leave their homes, but about 40 per cent decided to ignore the order.

The municipality of about 7,600 and the neighbouring municipality of Pointe-Fortune have both launched emergency measures, although the evacuation advisory is not mandatory.

"If possible, go stay with friends or family. Buy food and supplies," Gagnon recommended.

Residents are also being advised to take items off the floors of the ground level of their homes and garages, in anticipation of water seeping in.

Montreal, Laval issue warnings, too

Officials in Montreal and Laval are are also bracing for flooding that could come by the weekend, as the storm clouds dumping rain near the Ontario border move further east.

Starting Sunday, areas hit by flooding in 2017, including Pierrefonds, Île Bizard and western Laval, could be in for more of the same.

In a worst-case scenario, some 800 residences in Laval could be impacted by rising water levels, according to Pierre Brochet, the director of Laval's police service.

Laval is being proactive by calling residents who are at risk of being flooded, he said, and it has committed to visiting them door to door Thursday.

Brochet said the city will also be delivering sandbags, and city workers will help residents place them if homeowners are not able to do so themselves.

Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

"Sandbags we have in abundance. Don't worry," said Sandra Desmeules, the Laval executive committee member in charge of public security.

Desmeules said that the executive committee will be working through the weekend in anticipation of an emergency situation. She advised residents to go to the Laval website for updates as the situation develops.

Montreal has not given an estimate of how many residences are at risk of flooding, but it said the same areas as 2017 will be affected.

Hydro-Québec said Wednesday that many rivers, including the Outaouais, Gatineau, Mille-Îles and Saint-Maurice rivers "may experience drastic increases in water levels."

The public utility is advising residents to cut off power to their homes in case of flooding.

Pierrefonds-Roxboro, in Montreal's West Island, which was severely impacted in 2017, has installed water pumps on de la Rive-Boisée Road and is closing it to traffic from Gouin Boulevard to David Street.