Outaouais towns keep close eye on rising water levels
'We want to be proactive and not get our two feet caught in the water,' says Saint-André-Avellin mayor
Municipalities in the Outaouais region of Quebec, including Saint-André-Avellin and Pontiac, are keeping a close eye on local waterways after water levels rose significantly over the past few days.
"We've started to follow the changes in the water for a good week," said Jean-René Carrière, mayor of Saint-André-Avellin.
"We want to be proactive and not get our two feet caught in the water."
The municipality began preparing and distributing sandbags Friday so that residents could build dikes to prevent flooding.
The mayor said that 100 of the 500 bags available have already been distributed.
"We opened our office for emergency measures," Carrière said in a French-language interview.
"We will stay alert until the water levels falls below 1.67 and 1.7 meters."
Province keeping close eye on waters, MP says
Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie said her municipality is in the same boat and is also preparing sandbags.
"The river can go up another 30 to 50 centimetres," she warned. "I suggest people get ready for that over the next 72 hours."
The provincial government is also keeping a close eye on the waters, said Alexandre Iracà, the Liberal MP for Papineau.
"After what happened last year, we've learned a lot," Iracà said in a French-language interview.
"We hired a regional director specifically for civil security… [and] we are more on the lookout for what may come."
Both Carrière and Iracà said they predict this year's flood will not be as troublesome as 2017, and that flooding should be minimal in the area.
"We anticipate fewer flooded houses," Carrière said. "The temperature seems to be helping us this year. We expect seven or eight houses [flooded] in the village."
With files from Antoine Trépanier and Estelle Côté-Sroka