Nine families in Saint-Jude, Que., will have to wait several months to return to their homes after a riverbank collapsed on Wednesday.

The homes are in the same area, an hour's drive northeast of Montreal, where a family of four died last year after their home was swallowed by mud in a massive landslide.

On Sunday, a large section of one of the banks of the Salvail River eroded and collapsed into the water.

Saint-Jude Mayor Yves de Bellefeuille said town and provincial officials decided to evacuate the nine homes nearby as a precaution.

"Last year's loss of an entire family was not easy and we told ourselves that we did not want to lose any others. We aren't taking any chances," said Bellefeuille, mayor of the town of 1,000.

Friends and family have taken in the 35 people for the time being.

Clay earth unstable


The collapse of a riverbank in St-Jude, Que., led officials to evacuate 9 homes. (CBC)

Heavy rains over the past week have made the ground conditions in the Saint-Jude area even more unstable than usual.

The region sits on an ancient clay seabed that can be prone to landslides when water seeps between the clay particles in the ground.

Town Coun. Christian Vanasse said municipal and provincial officials will spend the next two months assessing the safety of the area and fixing the erosion problem along the Salvail River.

Fortification of the shoreline will take six to eight weeks, he said.

"We'll put rocks in the river and on the shore to make sure that nothing will move ever," said Vanasse.

On May 10, 2010, the Préfontaine family was in the basement living room watching a Montreal Canadiens game when the ground beneath the cliffside country home collapsed.

The home disappeared into a kilometre-wide crater, with its green roof the only sign a home was ever there.

The family's bodies were found days later under a thick layer of mud.

The home had shifted 30 metres from its original location, not far from the Salvail River, a tributary of the Yamaska River.