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Soldiers from the Royal 22nd regiment, known as the Vandoos, wade through a flooded street along the Richelieu River May 9 in Saint Blaise, Que. They could be back should waters rise again. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

With threatening weather again on the horizon, Quebec Premier Jean Charest called for more Canadian soldiers to help residents in the flood-ravaged region south of Montreal.

High winds forecast to begin Sunday were expected to cause the Richelieu River to rise yet again, in an area that has suffered from flooding for over a month.

At one time, more than 800 troops were in the region to help residents and lay down sandbags, but that number has since dropped to a few hundred.

Charest said the military help is needed again. 

"We are going to ask the Armed Forces to be vigilant with the change in the weather patterns that may actually make things worse," Charest told reporters Saturday after meeting with mayors in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Charest called on Defence Minister Peter MacKay to visit the Richelieu Valley and meet the mayors so he can better understand the situation.

The Canadian Forces didn't immediately comment late Saturday, though MacKay said in a statement Friday that although the number of military personnel has been cut back, they will continue to "assist civil authorities" as long as required. 

More than 3,000 homes have been flooded and 1,000 have been evacuated since the flooding began.

While some of the hardest-hit areas have been all but abandoned, a few residents have opted to stay behind to do what they can to control the flooding.

Canoe for visitors

On Saturday, Nicole Mallette and Andre Tougas sat on their back porch drinking tea in the sun, overlooking the flood waters that extend across farm land all the way to their backyard.

The Ste.-Anne-de-Sabrevois couple have a canoe on hand so visitors can cross the moat that separates their home from the road. 

Mallette said they decided to stay home to ensure the pumps in their basement keep pumping out water, and they have been successful so far.

"It was the best decision we made," she said.

Others, however, have had far more trouble and some homes in the flooded area weren't built to sustain such high waters.

Charest promised to again increase the level of financial assistance for those most affected by the flood.

Residents are already eligible for a maximum of $150,000, while businesses can receive up to $200,000.

"As we look ahead when the waters will finally recede, we're going to look at the bigger picture and how we can maybe help more," he said.

"That will come … once we have a better idea of  what we're looking at."

Gerald Dutil, mayor of St-Paul-de-l'Ile-aux-Noix, said he's happy with the provincial government's response but more assistance will be needed once the cleanup begins.

Dutil said his community will need to look at ways to limit damage in the future, though he added he's never seen the flood waters so high.

"This has been an exceptional year," he said.