1 dead in western Quebec as waters rise and army begins deployment

Authorities remain on high alert for flooding across southern Quebec as waters continue to rise with the military on the way to assist in evacuations.

'The water is going to keep rising, even if the rain has stopped,' said director of Quebec's civil security

William Bradley wades through floodwaters on a residential street next to his home in the town of Rigaud, Que. west of Montreal, Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Authorities remain on high alert for flooding across southern Quebec as waters continue to rise with military on the way to assist in evacuations.

At least one death can be attributed to the flooding thus far. A woman in her 70s was killed early Saturday morning in Pontiac, Que., about 50 kilometres west of Ottawa, when she drove into a massive hole created after floodwaters washed out a road, Pontiac's mayor Johanne Labadie said.

Labadie had said that a passenger may have been injured in the crash, but it was confirmed later that the driver was alone.

Pontiac and two other municipalities in the Outaouais region, Val-des-Monts and Saint-André-Avellin, declared states of emergency on Friday because of flooding.

On Saturday, officials in Beauceville, south of Quebec City, said the Chaudière River was expected to cause major flooding and have given evacuation orders. The town was already hit by flooding earlier this week. 

A woman died early Saturday morning after her car plunged into a massive hole in the road caused by floodwaters near Pontiac, in western Quebec. (Collines-de-l'Outaouais Regional Police)

Beauceville officials have asked for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and military vehicles are on the way to assist with evacuations.

The City of Laval also has asked for help from the Forces, as water levels were expected to rise overnight into Sunday as the snow melts. 

Brig.-Gen. Jennie Carignan told a news conference Saturday afternoon that the Armed Forces have identified priority areas, including Laval, where troops would be deployed to help.

She said 200 people will be deployed in Gatineau and Trois Rivières Saturday evening.

By midday Sunday, Carignan said another wave of troops will be sent out for a total of around 600 people on the ground in Trois Rivières, Laval, and Gatineau.

They'll be working with local authorities to organize efforts to protect infrastructure and help with evacuations. 

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said on Saturday that Canadian Armed Forces officers had begun working with officials at regional civil security headquarters in five areas: Outaouais; Montreal, Laurentians and Lanaudière; Montérégie and Estrie; and Quebec City and Chaudière-Appallaches.

"As a military officer, it's always rewarding to be directly helping our fellow Canadian citizens in their time of need," said Maj. Philippe-Andre Genest, the senior liaison officer for the Forces' Joint Task Force East. 

He said reconnaissance teams were on the ground Saturday to determine where the Forces could be best used.

Radio-Canada has learned that a response unit of up to 350 soldiers at CFB Valcartier, northwest of Quebec City, was preparing to deploy Saturday afternoon.

Mathieu Lacombe, the MNA for Papineau and the provincial minister responsible for the Outaouais region, tweeted Saturday morning that CAF members are en route to Pontiac.

Snow melting in river basins

The rainfall warning for Montreal was lifted Saturday, but authorities remain on alert for flooding across southern Quebec.

"The water is going to keep rising, even if the rain has stopped," cautioned Éric Houde, director of Quebec's civil security operations.

A significant amount of snow remains on the ground in river basins around the province, Houde said, and the rain and rising temperatures is causing it to melt rapidly, adding more water to already swollen rivers.

Floodwaters cover a roadway in Beauceville, south of Quebec City, on Saturday. The town was still cleaning up from a flood earlier in the week. Town officials have asked the military to help with evacuations. (Hans Campbell/Radio-Canada)

"Today water levels will continue to climb, and tomorrow they will continue to climb," Houde said. "There's still a lot of snow in these areas."

Environment Canada said around 40 millimetres of rain fell on Montreal since Thursday. More fell north of Montreal — up to 60 millimetres in the Laurentians.

Temperatures will also rise significantly, meteorologist André Cantin said.

"We'll see a warmer temperature tomorrow that will help melt the snow on the ground, especially in the northern regions, and that won't help stop the rising of the rivers," he said.

Cantin said daily temperatures will be in the lower tens until at least Wednesday, with overnights above freezing.

"That's not good news for the melting of the snow," he said.

Ottawa River rising; alerts elsewhere in Quebec

Four of five measurement stations along the river between Masson-Angers, Que., about 30 kilometres east of Ottawa, and Aylmer, Que., just west of Ottawa, are at "red level," meaning buildings are threatened. 

Several streets in Gatineau are under water, with water levels on the Ottawa River still rising.

The area around Rigaud, just west of Montreal, is reporting minor flooding as rivers in the area continue to be under watch.

The mayor of the community has already asked people to leave their homes because of the high risk of flooding.

Around the West Island of Montreal, the Rivière des Prairies continues to be under surveillance for flooding.

Rainfall warnings remain in place in the Quebec City region and in the Mauricie region, including Trois-Rivières.

For towns west of Quebec City, in Port Neuf and Pont Rouge, there continues to be a risk for flooding.

With files from Radio-Canada