Over 1,200 people evacuated across Quebec as spring flood claims one life

April 22 (UPI) — Massive flooding in southern Quebec has forced over 1,000 people from their homes over the weekend, the province said Sunday.

More than 1,220 people were evacuated, 2,341 residences were flooded and 706 homes were isolated by floodwaters in several communities throughout the Canadian province, including Outaouais, Estrie, Centre-du-Quebec and Laval as the spring snowmelt and rain caused rivers to overflow in the areas, Urgence Quebec reported.

Some 600 Canadian Forces troops were deployed to affected areas, with 200 soldiers dispatched Saturday to Outaouais and Mauricie regions and 400 deployed Sunday to both regions, as well as Laval.

“The evacuations are going well,” said Eric Houde, director of Quebec’s civil security operations. “Everyone in these regions remembers the floods of 2017 … the municipalities’ level of preparation is significant,” CBC reported.

Minister of Infrastructure Francois-Philippe Champagne thanked the troops for their “outstanding work” over the Easter weekend.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault toured affected areas Sunday with Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to be briefed on the situation and to lend support to volunteers.

“Thank you to the many volunteers who came to lend a hand to residents,” Plante said in a tweet.

However, there was still a greater need for volunteers, as the City of Montreal asked the public for help bagging, transporting and distributing sandbags to properties at high risk of flooding in the city.

Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis called on the public via Facebook for more volunteers with trucks to help.

“We need volunteers to bag, we need volunteers with trucks, we need pickups, trailers, whatever you might have that you could go to some of the areas that are highly affected and in need of supplementary bags that we have distributed throughout the territory,” he said, adding, “We have 48 hours or so that we’re really in a critical zone, so we’re hoping that everybody comes out.”

One person died due to the flooding on Saturday after she drove her car into a massive sinkhole that floodwaters caused in Outaouais, according to police.

In a tweet Saturday, police said Louise Seguin Lortie, 72, died when her sedan fell into a sinkhole created when flood waters wiped out an entire section of the street over Friday night.

Red Cross has also launched a fundraising campaign to help its efforts to provide relief aid to those affected.

The organization had mobilized volunteers and was working with municipal authorities.

“What we can do is open shelters, we can also provide vouchers for food or for clothes,” Canadian Red Cross spokesman Carl Boisvert said. “So, we’re working with municipalities regarding their needs to be able to work with them and provide what they need from us.”

This is the second time in three years that the province has been hit by massive flooding, leaving politicians considering whether it would be better to force homeowners from these high-risk areas in order to prevent taxpayers having to constantly foot the bill for the damages, the Montreal Gazette reported.

“We have to adjust our programs to rapidly compensate people who have damage and need to do renovations,” he told reporters. “But at the same time, we have to be lucid and if it’s necessary to force people to move, we will have to do that,” he said.

Posted by Dimitrios Jim Beis on Sunday, April 21, 2019


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