In flood-stricken Quebec, impact of weekend rain won't be as bad as first thought

After a long week of fighting floodwaters, some good news — the weekend weather forecast, once ominous, won't be as problematic as first thought.

Montreal says return to flooded homes will be slow, asks residents to contact city before going back

Firefighters walk through a flooded street as the water starts to recede Friday, May 12, 2017 in Deux-Montagnes, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

After a long week of fighting floodwaters, some good news — the weekend weather, once ominous, won't be as problematic as it was forecast to be earlier in the week.

Parts of the Mauricie region in central Quebec, where the fear was that a predicted 59 millimetres of rain could increase water levels in and around an already swollen Lac Saint-Pierre, are now forecast to see no more than 25 millimetres of rain over the weekend.

High winds and the tides are still a concern in that area, as well as in other parts of the province, but the wind won't be as strong as previously forecast, said Environment Minister David Heurtel.

Officials are warning residents that wind may create waves that could further damage their homes.

As of Friday, about 4,485 residences have been flooded across the province, forcing some 3,641 people from their homes.

The weather outlook is also better in western Quebec, where water levels in the Ottawa River, the Lake of Two Mountains and the Milles-Îles and des Prairies rivers continue to fall, according to Heurtel.

A man and a woman look on as water crashes over a makeshift dike in the town of Pointe-Fortune, Que., west of Montreal. Authorities are warning that wind and rain in the weekend forecast may create challenging conditions for those in flood zones. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Water levels in Lac St-Louis are expected to remain stable, even though the water flowing from Lake Ontario, where levels are also high, is being increased, Heurtel said.

In Montreal, the city is expected to announce this weekend whether the current state of emergency will be extended or lifted.  Regardless, Montreal fire department Chief Bruno Lachance said no one is taking any chances, and the city is urging caution for residents wanting to return home.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces were in Pierrefonds-Roxboro yesterday reinforcing a dike on Dauville Street and pumping water out of the neighbourhood.

Slow return home in Montreal

While floodwaters continue to recede in affected regions in and around Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre is asking for affected residents to be patient when it comes to going back home.

"When we're talking about eventual reintegration, there's a very clear process," said Coderre during a news conference on Friday. "We have to move forward with care and to remember that there is still water pressure on the dikes."

Floodwaters have gone down significantly on this once flooded street in Pierrefonds-Roxboro. (Julie Marceau/Radio-Canada)

The city will also set up two command posts to help residents who are able to return to their homes. Flood victims are asked to contact 311 to get help from public security.

"We'll act quickly, but please contact us before going back to your homes," said Lachance.

Firefighters will accompany residents to inspect their homes and identify any risks related to structural damage, electricity or natural gas.

Residents may only return to their homes once city inspectors deem it is safe, and then they will receive individualized safety instructions to follow.

The city is also advising residents to do the following upon returning home:

  • Check that heating and electricity systems are functioning.
  • Check the general state of the home.
  • Ensure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly.
  • Check for mould.
  • Document damage by taking photos and keeping a written log.
  • Check food and water quality before consuming.

Compensation on the way

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said that the compensation phase, the next step of the government's plan to help affected residents, is underway.

He echoed comments made by Premier Philippe Couillard, who said yesterday that the province is in the process of reviewing its compensation plan and changes may be forthcoming.

The levels of compensation will be higher, Coiteux said, but there will still be a maximum.

"We want to be more generous, and we want to do it in the right way," he said.

During a visit Thursday to hard-hit Mauricie, Couillard told flood victims that the Canadian Armed Forces will remain on site to help out even after water levels go down.

Calling in reinforcements

In a show of "municipal solidarity," Bernard Sévigny, president of the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ), said the umbrella group is issuing a call to cities and towns that haven't been hit by flooding to help with the relief efforts.

A flood victim looks through donated clothes at the local community centre in Deux-Montagnes, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Municipalities will be asked to contribute technical support, human resources and equipment to other communities in need.

The UMQ will work with the Public Security Ministry to coordinate resources for the effort, Sévigny said