Rigaud floodwaters could begin to recede Sunday, Quebec officials say

The floodwaters that have forced hundreds of people from their homes near the Ottawa River west of Montreal could begin to recede as early as Sunday, said Quebec public security officials.

Heavy rain earlier this week caused the river to overflow, leading to severe flooding in parts of Rigaud, Que.

The municipality —  25 kilometres west of the island of Montreal — declared a state of emergency on Thursday afternoon.

Some 441 families were advised to leave their homes. But about 40 per cent decided to ignore the order.

"I'm safe here, so I'm not going to leave my house," said Rigaud resident Suzanne Labrie.

On Saturday, about 20 Rigaud firefighters and 16 Sûreté du Québec officers visited the occupied residences to see if the residents needed help.

Two buses were deployed to assist those who are incapable of leaving their homes on their own.

Labrie's floors are wet, but not flooded, she told Radio-Canada, and her house still had electricity and functioning toilets despite being surrounded by water.

She added that she has enough bottled water and her sons installed sandbags around the house.

"I'm OK, I have everything I need," she said.

Rigaud officials ordered residents in the flood zones not to drink their well water as septic tanks are likely contaminating nearby artesian wells.

They are urging residents to use bottled water. If people can't access bottled water, they can consume their well water only if it is clear and has been boiled for at least one minute.

Stabilizing water levels

Public security officials say water levels have stabilized since the heavy rainfall, but they continue to monitor the situation closely. 

In the meantime, the provincial government has promised to provide compensation to the flood victims.

The details of exactly how much they will receive have yet to be worked out. But officials indicated the government would likely cover those costs not picked up by insurance companies.

"I want to tell these people that we feel for them," Premier Philippe Couillard said Saturday.

"Public Security and the Sûreté du Québec are at work on a daily basis to make sure they are safe and that their property is safe as well."

Two other Quebec municipalities near the Ottawa River — Pontiac and Saint-André-Avellin — have also declared a state of emergency due to flooding.