More soldiers join Quebec flood relief mission

Another 100 soldiers went to work Saturday to help victims of a massive flood south of Montreal.

Another 100 soldiers went to work Saturday to help victims of a massive flood south of Montreal.

A total of about 800 soldiers are now on the ground in the Monteregie region, placing sandbags in swamped areas and transporting people from their homes or rescuing the stranded, using inflatable boats.

Floodwaters along the Richelieu River dropped slightly overnight but there are still about 3,000 homes and businesses swamped and about 1,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

Water levels have dropped about four centimetres, CBC's Catherine Cullen reported.

Residents make their way through flooded streets along the Richelieu River in Saint-Blaise, Que. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said cloud cover in the region was dissipating and a high-pressure system was settling in from the west. Clear skies are in the forecast for the next few days, he said.

Melting snow and days of heavy rains forced the Richelieu River to spill its banks earlier in the week, flooding hundreds of farms and about 20 municipalities.

In St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Cullen came across three women in a canoe who were heading to one of their homes to get a few belongings.

"She says her house is total loss. She was just hoping to collect some clothing," Cullen said. "She  also had a couple of cats that she had to leave behind. She said she's been crying for days, that this is just absolutely devastating."

"I met another man who says there's is not so much damage to his house," Cullen said. "He considers himself one of the lucky ones, but he still says this has been absolute hell for him, that he has been fighting against the water and that you never know when your power is going to give out, when will the pumps stop working. He said it's been very stressful."

The Quebec division of the Canadian Red Cross on Saturday launched a dedicated fund to help those affected by the flooding.

Director General Michel Léveillé said the organization is "confident that Canadians will be generous in the face of this very urgent situation."

"As soon as the water level fades out, we will realize that for some families, they will lose everything," he told CBC news.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis promised federal support  for flood victims on Friday, hours after the province handed out $770,000 to 234 affected families.