'Large-scale disaster': Ralph Goodale warns of long flood recovery ahead

Water levels are beginning to recede, but the biggest challenges of flood recovery are still ahead, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says.

Federal, provincial emergency preparedness officials will look for ways to 'build back better'

A military vehicle drives down the flooded Jacques Cartier Street in Gatineau, Que. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale warned today that flood recovery will not be quick or easy. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Water levels are beginning to recede, but the biggest challenges of flood recovery are still ahead, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale warned today.

Describing the flooding as a "large-scale disaster," Goodale said the emergency response is still in the early days.

"Recovery will not be quick or easy," he said. "As the water subsides, the human reality of what has happened will increasingly sink in as people experience the dirty, muddy damages that they have to cope with."

Updating reporters on the floods, Goodale said he and his emergency preparedness counterparts across the country will develop a strategy that aims to "build back better." That means using engineering techniques or relocation decisions that make communities less vulnerable and more resilient to floods, fires and ice storms in the future, he said.

Earlier today, Transport Minister Marc Garneau urged residents not to use drones to capture images of flood zones, warning the recreational unmanned aircraft could interfere with or endanger aerial surveillance and helicopters in the affected regions.

Drones dangerous to aircraft

"I would encourage people not to be flying their drones around here or any other areas where there's flooding," Garneau said during an update briefing in Gatineau, Que., this morning.

"They may just sort of want to do it out of curiosity, but there are helicopters, there's a Transport Canada plane that does surveillance of flooded areas that flies fairly low. This is not a time for people to put their drones out there unless they have special authorization and a special flight operations certificate."

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says people should refrain from flying drones in flood zones 0:29

Garneau's spokesperson Marc Roy said many videos of the flood zones posted to YouTube were captured using drones. The practice poses a danger to the pilots and aircraft performing critical surveillance and evaluations in the areas.

According to Transport Canada's website, there are strict rules around where and when a drone can be flown legally, and going near areas where it could interfere with police or first responders is forbidden. 

CAF response surpasses 2,000

Another 470 troops will be dispatched from Kingston, bringing the total number of Canadian Armed Forces assisting with the flood response to 2,200. 

"It's an indication first of all of how our military bring a lot of comfort to people who see them. It makes them feel better in these difficult times," he said. "It also shows a strong engagement at the federal level."

Many residents have expressed frustration that the military took too long to get there, saying some of the damage could have been prevented if troops had arrived earlier.

This aerial image of Constance Bay, Ont., was taken from a video taken using a drone and posted to YouTube. Transport Minister Marc Garneau is urging people not to fly drones in flood-affected regions. (YouTube)

Garneau said the federal government responded immediately to the request from the province of Quebec, but said the protocols will be reviewed to determine best practices for future.

"The decision has to be made, how do you deploy to the maximum effect your resources...and that takes a little bit of planning to decide how to do that," he said.

National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the military is "quick to arrive and slow to leave," and promised that troops won't leave until the cleanup is done.

"We will only pull out resources when they aren't needed," he said.

Minister David Heurtel says province not in the clear yet, expects waters East of Montreal to continue to rise 5:32

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