Montreal

Que. floods recede as more soldiers arrive

Floodwaters in southeastern Quebec are declining again after hitting a record high on the weekend in a test of endurance that has left many residents disheartened.

Latest

  • Richelieu River water recedes 18 cm in 24 hours
  • Short-term forecast may stabilize flood zone
  • More rain predicted for Thursday

Floodwaters in southeastern Quebec are declining again after hitting a record high on the weekend in a test of endurance that has left many residents disheartened.

More Canadian soldiers descended on the swollen Richelieu River Tuesday to bolster local emergency services.

Late Tuesday afternoon, water levels had dropped by at least 18 centimetres over 24 hours, a trend meteorologists say will continue for a few days.

The sudden decline came as a relief after last week's weather roller-coaster, when flood waters appeared to be receding, only to surge again to a record high Monday because of rain and wind.

"Things are looking good right now," said Gérard Dutil, mayor of Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-aux-Noix, one of several towns tested by unprecedented flooding.

On Monday, water levels hit a new high in the town as wind gusts from the south pushed a wall of water from Lake Champlain into the engorged Richelieu.

More than 3,000 homes have been flooded and 1,000 people have been forced from their homes since the flooding began in early May.

More soldiers sent to flood zone

Military relief efforts were ramped up again Tuesday, with 250 reserve forces at CFB Valcartier ordered back to the region, doubling personnel to 500.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest requested the additional help Monday, saying there was much to be done.

"They will be used for different tasks," Charest said. "Be it security, sandbagging … we will be responding to requests as quickly as possible."

It's not clear how long the additional soldiers from the Valcartier base will stay in the region, said Maj. Richard Collin, deputy commander of the domestic task force, which is managing the operation.

"What I can say is that we will be in every town along the Richelieu River [affected by flooding]," he said.

But residents aren't out of the woods yet. René Héroux of Environment Canada said rain is forecast for later this week.

"About two to three days of precipitation starting Thursday … and going into the weekend," Héroux said.

It won't be until the start of next week that flood victims should start seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.