Floodwaters rise in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
Quebec public health minister urges flood victims to ask for psychological help if they need it
While the clean up has started in regions across Quebec following severe flooding in early May, water levels continue to rise in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, located about 550 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
The water levels in Lac St-Jean are expected to rise over five metres by the end of Sunday and remain steady throughout the week. The water is the highest it has been in 40 years.
Quebec officials say that 133 homes have been flooded in the municipalities of Saint-Félicien, Saint-Gédeon and Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix. Another 250 homes are threatened by rising waters in Saint-Félicien alone.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said the situation could have been much more serious without the help of dams operated by Rio Tinto.
"It could have been a lot worse without the preventative management of the upstream dams," said Coiteux.
While local authorities and residents have been placing sandbags to protect homes from flooding, the Canadian Forces are also ready to intervene if the Quebec government asks for additional help.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
The province is also urging flood-ravaged Quebecers to ask for assistance.
Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said that teams of social workers are going door-to-door to check in on flood victims and see how they are doing.
"When we go through moments like this, you can't be embarrassed to ask for help," said Charlebois.
The teams can also help residents fill out government forms for compensation and redirect them to other services if they need something, Charlebois added. They are also there to provide support to those suffering from psychological distress.
"It's normal to have strong reactions," said Charlebois."You have to ask for help when it is necessary."
Quebecers who need assistance are urged to call 811.
Cleaning up and starting over
While the worst appears to be over in other regions, residents are now tasked with cleaning up and returning home after severe flooding forced them from their homes in early May.
Several communities in and around the island of Montreal are also asking for help this long weekend to collect thousands of sandbags and get rid of debris left behind after flooding.
Earlier this week the provincial government announced a new, more comprehensive compensation program for flood victims.
The program now includes more money for damage to flooded homes and businesses, and Quebecers can also claim new items not previously covered by the province's compensation fund.
As of Sunday, the flooding have affected more than 250 municipalities across the province and has forced more than 4,000 people from their homes.
With files from Brennan Neill and Radio-Canada