The cities of Montreal and Laval are each under a state of emergency and rising water levels continue to wreak havoc on parts of Quebec.

There has been a lot of information about the flooding, so here's a breakdown of the key things you need to know.

What is a state of emergency?

The Emergency Management Act gives authorities the power to move quickly to centralize and co-ordinate responses.

It allows authorities:

  • to force evacuations of buildings.
  • enter buildings without a warrant.
  • to prevent stores and commercial businesses from hiking up prices of goods and services. 

You can find an up-to-date list of municipalities that have declared a state of emergency on Urgence Québec's website.

Who to call if you need help?

  • Montreal's 311 line is now back up and running, after a brief shutdown Sunday morning. 
  • People who feel they are in danger can call 911.
pierrefonds sandbags

Volunteers have been filling and delivering sandbags around the clock in an effort to protect houses from the rising waters. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

The Quebec Bar Association has put together a free guide on flood-related legal issues, such as dealing with leases and landlords in case of flooding, employee rights and insurance coverage.

The bar is also offering free legal advice starting Tuesday. People affected by the floods can call 1 844 954-3411 to be connected with a volunteer lawyer.

When to cut the power?

If your basement is in danger of flooding, do cut the power to the entire home to prevent any danger of electrocution or fire. Make sure that your feet are on dry ground and that you are not leaning against a metal object. 

If your basement has already flooded, do NOT try to cut off the power on your own. Contact Hydro-Québec at 1-800-790-2424. Their workers will cut the service to the meter or utility pole.  

Can you drink the water?

Even if your house is flooded, you can safely drink tap water if your water is provided by the municipal water system. If your water comes from an artesian well, it is not potable.

In this case, bring it to a full, rolling boil for one minute before drinking. 

When to leave your home?

The City of Montreal says if your home is flooded but water has not reached the fuse box, evacuation is not necessary. However, if you're worried, contact 311 and ask that a fire prevention officer come to assess the safety of your home.

If water levels continue to rise and authorities ask that you leave your home, please do so, for your own safety.

Firefighters are making the rounds of affected areas to ensure that residents are not in danger. 

Residents who voluntarily decide to leave their home as a precautionary measure are asked to advise their municipality of the situation. Police are making regular rounds of affected neighbourhoods.

flood volunteers Vaudreuil

Hundreds of people spent hours volunteering throughout the West Island filling sandbags over the weekend. (Debra Arbec/CBC)

What personal belongings to bring?

The City of Montreal is asking residents not to move their cars from their properties if they are surrounded by water.

Residents who need to leave their homes are advised to bring pieces of identity and an emergency kit with all the basic items needed for 72 hours, including water, food, clothes, keys and money, as well as your phone and its charger.

Where can I go?

In Montreal, the following emergency shelters and information centres have been set up:

  • Ahuntsic-Cartierville:  11885 Laurentien Boulevard (YMCA).  
  • Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève: 490 Montée de l'Église (cultural centre).
  • Pierrefonds Service Centre: Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School (entrance via Richmond Street.) (NOTE: this is an information centre only and not a shelter).
  • Bellevue: 60 Rue Saint-Pierre (Hartell Centre).
  • Senneville: 20 Avenue de Morningside (cultural centre). 

The Red Cross has also set up information centres in several communities affected by flooding. They are not emergency shelters, however, staff there can answer questions and direct people to shelter.

The Red Cross information centres are open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

At Concordia University, all faculty, staff, students and graduates and their immediate families who were forced to leave their homes can request temporary shelter.

"Rooms at the Grey Nuns Residence (1190 Guy St.) will be available at no charge, on a first-come, first-served basis, for faculty, staff and students, including their immediate families, for a limited time," said Roger Côté, vice-president of services, in a statement issued late Monday.

People can email Concordia, or call 514-848-2424, ext. 8000, to make the request, and must provide the following information:

  • Name and address.
  • Concordia ID number.
  • Number of people requiring accommodation.
  • Estimated number of nights required.

Which areas have been affected?

  • As of Monday night, Urgence Québec says 171 municipalities across the province have been affected by rising water levels, especially in the regions of Montreal, the Montérégie, Laval, the Mauricie, Lanaudière and the Laurentians.
  • ​2,733 homes have been flooded across the province.
  • 1,940 people have been evacuated from their homes.
  • 486 streets have been affected.
  • By Monday evening, 1,650 Canadian Forces personnel were on the ground in Quebec.
  • Here is the list of street closures due to flooding on the island of Montreal.

Ile Bizard May 4

This community centre in Île Bizard was turned into an emergency shelter on May 5, as floodwaters forced many residents from their homes. (Charles Contant/CBC)

  • Areas in the Montérégie region, the municipalities of Hudson, Vaudreuil, Terrasse-Vaudreuil and the island of Île-Perrot are also affected by heavy flooding. Terrasse-Vaudreuil and Pincourt declared states of emergency on Sunday.
  • Transports Québec has closed the Galipeault Bridge between Montreal and Île-Perrot on Highway 20.
  • Laval is asking residents living on the island of Île-Verte and Île-Roussin to leave their homes.
  • The village of Oka has also declared a state of emergency.

Are schools closed?

flood quebec

The city is advising anyone in need of assistance to contact 311 for instructions. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Several school boards closed schools in and around the island of Montreal, due to rising floodwaters.

Have health-care services been affected?

If you need to go to a clinic or doctor's office in affected areas, you should call ahead.

Health authorities in the West Island say the CLSC Pierrefonds will be open this Monday, but there will be limited road access. However, the youth and vaccination clinics, as well as mental health services, will be cancelled.

General social services will be relocated to the Lac-Saint-Louis CLSC. 

The Montreal West Island CIUSSS is encouraging residents with questions about services to contact them at 514-630-6800.

What to do if you need sandbags?

Que Flooding 20170502

A house is surrounded with water on Tuesday in Rigaud. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The City of Montreal has sandbags on hand for areas affected by flooding.

Borough workers will drop them off and help residents set them up around their properties.

Volunteers in and around the West Island have been lending a hand to fill and deliver bags, as well.

How can you help?

For people looking to help, some communities are looking for volunteers to fill and deliver sandbags.

  • Île-Bizard-Sainte−Geneviève is asking for volunteers at 406 Montée de l'Église Street, Monday. They are asking that people wear warm clothes and that volunteers be 14 years-old and up, since the work is physical and there are a lot of trucks and loaders driving around.
  • Anyone with pickup trucks or trucks with trailers to lend their support for deliveries.
  • Vaudreuil is also looking for people to help fill sandbags Monday starting at 9 a.m. at 2555 Dutrisac Street, behind city hall.
  • The Fairview shopping centre in Pointe-Claire has set up a food distribution centre where people can drop off and pick up any food supplies during the flood.
  • Hudson is no longer looking for volunteers at the Hudson Fire Station.

What emergency funds are available?

pierrefonds quebec flood

The Quebec government says 146 municipalities have been affected by floods. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Since April, the province has promised to help owners of flood-damaged properties. Homeowners can apply for financial aid and contact the Quebec government through its website.

As of May 4, Quebec's Public Security Ministry reported it had received 490 requests for compensation related to flooding.

That's a dramatic increase compared to 2016, when a total of 61 claims were filed for the entire year.

What if I need to run a generator?

Fire officials are reminding anyone running a propane or gas generator not to operate it indoors, to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep it outside to ensure proper ventilation.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the Saint-Laurent recreation centre at 1375 Grenet Street has been set up as an emergency shelter. The centre has not received instructions to open as an emergency shelter at this time.
    May 08, 2017 2:29 PM ET
with files from Laurène Jardin and Marilla Steuter-Martin