Heavy spring floods are engulfing communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, washing out roads and highways, threatening homes and prompting evacuations.
Heavy snowfall and a late-blooming spring season have been major factors, leading to torrential runoffs from melting snow and ice-jammed rivers overspilling their banks.
Saskatchewan is hard hit, having experienced heavy snows this past winter. Regina alone received a record 196 centimetres of snow, nearly double the amount from the previous year.
Residents of Borden, Sask., are banding together to fight the floodwaters after the community declared a state of emergency. Residents have laid down 40,000 sandbags in the past week.
"We’ve never ever experienced this kind of flooding," Borden Mayor David Buckingham told CBC News.
The situation there could worsen as only 25 per cent of Saskatchewan’s snow is estimated to have melted.
- Flooding forces partial evacuation of Kashechewan, Attawapiskat
- Spring floods cause trouble in 4 provinces
In Ontario, several townships have declared states of emergency, including the Attawapiskat and Kashechewan First Nations, which began partial evacuations Wednesday. Moosonee and Moose Factory are both on alert as ice jams on the Moose River threaten to flood the towns.
Manitoba’s flood threat has shifted as high water on the Assiniboine River is moving from the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border towards the city of Brandon.
On Monday, a 12-year-old girl was swept away by freezing floodwaters in Ste. Rose du Lac, but managed to cling to a tree and was later rescued by firefighters.
The province also introduced new legislation Wednesday to crack down on residents who ignore evacuation orders.
Water levels on the Red River have been rising since last weekend, and sandbag dikes are already protecting several homes in Winnipeg.
Several Quebec communities are poised for evacuations as melting snow pours into the Ottawa and Coulonge rivers, threatening communities such as Mansfield, Campbell’s Bay and Luskville.
Luskville has begun distributing sandbags and preparing emergency shelters.
The Ottawa river has already risen over a foot.