Quebec officials preach patience as water levels drop in parts of province

Water levels are gradually starting to go down in parts of western Quebec, but officials are warning that rain this weekend may worsen conditions in the province's central Mauricie region.

Province says it's planning for next phase of relief efforts — cleanup, rebuilding and compensation

Canadian forces soldiers lay down sandbags to reinforce the highway in Saint-Andre-d'Argenteuil, Que., west of Montreal. (Canadian Press)

Water levels are gradually starting to go down in parts of western Quebec, but officials are warning that rain this weekend may worsen conditions in the province's central Mauricie region.

The latest numbers released on Tuesday evening by Urgence Québec show 3,882 homes are flooded — a jump of more than 1,000 from the day before. Some 2,721 people have been forced from their homes.

Around the province, 126 landslides have also been reported as of Wednesday. 

Both Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux have expressed hope that, weather permitting, water levels will be back to normal by month's end.

In an update Wednesday, Coiteux warned that the return home will "not be tomorrow," but compensation is in place to help Quebecers with the damage.

Public meetings are being organized in municipalities across the province to explain what compensation is available and how to make a claim.

In the National Assembly Wednesday, Premier Philippe Couillard said the government is reviewing its numbers to bring compensation more in line with the actual costs involved in repairing and rebuilding homes.

'Everyone is mobilized'

In the meantime, with more rain in the forecast, Coiteux said rescue and support operations are continuing "and everyone is mobilized."

Brian Lauder surveys the water lapping at the dike he built around his home in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, west of Montreal. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Among the government ministries taking part in the operation, Coiteux said Quebec's ministry of health and social services is taking on an increasingly important role.

"Given the large number of people affected by the floods, psycho-social assistance is becoming more and more important," he said. 

"That help is present in each municipality and citizens shouldn't hesitate to seek their help."

Quebec residents with questions about psycho-social services can call 811 and speak with a health professional.

Flood victims who want to make a claim for compensation can call the province at 1-888-643-2433.

As of Thursday, Hydro-Québec will have a dedicated flood assistance phone line at 1-888-385-7252 (option 1).

A state of emergency was declared in Yamachiche on the north shore of Lac Saint-Pierre, 24 kilometres west of Trois-Rivières, Que. (Anne-Andrée Daneau/Radio-Canada)

More rain on its way

Between 20 millimetres and 40 millimetres of rain is expected this weekend, and more rain is expected over the next two weeks, said Environment Minister David Heurtel.

With water levels in the Ottawa River and Lake of Two Mountains beginning to drop, Heurtel said the new rains may slow the decrease but aren't likely to produce new flooding in western Quebec. 

WATCH: Drone footage of flooding in Pierrefonds

5 years ago
Duration 0:38
Radio-Canada's drone went up to get a bird's eye view of the flooding in Montreal's West Island.

However, the coming rain is a concern in the province's Mauricie region, where it is expected to raise the water level in an already swollen Lac Saint-Pierre.

The lake, a widening of the St. Lawrence River west of Trois-Rivières, is already dealing with high tides that have flooded parts of the shoreline. A state of emergency was declared Wednesday in the municipality of Yamachiche on the north shore of Lac Saint-Pierre. 

Quebec's north received the equivalent of a "winter and a half's worth of snow," Heurtel noted, and the impact of that is still being felt in the Rivière Saint-Maurice and adding to the woes of residents around Lac Saint-Pierre.

"We have to expect another difficult weekend in the Mauricie and especially Lac Saint-Pierre," Heurtel said.

He said civilian and military teams are already mobilizing in the area to prepare defences.

On Wednesday, Canada's Department of National Defence committed an additional 470 troops to Quebec, bringing the total to 2,300.

A military vehicle drives along a flooded street as waters breach the Gatineau River and flood a neighbourhood in Gatineau, Que., Wednesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Montreal has also been deployed to Montreal to assist in flood relief efforts.

The ship is expected to reach the Port of Montreal Thursday.

Montreal remaining 'vigilant' as waters recede

In an update Wednesday morning, Montreal fire department spokesperson Bruno Lachance said the expected rains "aren't alarming" but they are not taking any chances.

"We're being vigilant and keeping our teams in place," he said. 

Water levels have dropped by five to seven centimetres from their peak around the city, Lachance reported, and that trend is expected to continue.

Liz Smart gets a ride from James Taylor as she goes to check out her house Tuesday in Deux-Montagnes, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Still, firefighters, army and police worked through the night to strengthen a 1.2-kilometre dike along Lalande Boulevard in the city's Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough.

"It's a colossal job and it's finished now," Lachance said.

In the Montreal-area, 397 homes are still flooded and 243 have been evacuated.

A Red Cross appeal for donations to assist victims of the flooding in Quebec had raised $1.7 million by Wednesday.

Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so by calling 1-800-418-1111 or by visiting the Red Cross website.

Struggle to save historic clubhouse 

In Hudson, a town along the Lake of Two Mountains about 20 kilometres west of the island of Montreal, residents are trying to save a cornerstone of the community.

Despite the best efforts of volunteers, firefighters and club members, water has infiltrated the Hudson Yacht Club clubhouse, a 105-year-old building.

And even now that the water is receding, they're still trying to fortify the clubhouse — but wind, in the forecast for this weekend, may create waves that could cause further damage.