Flooding forces hundreds of evacuations as Quebec towns declare states of emergency

Municipalities like Baie-Saint-Paul in the Charlevoix region and Saint-Côme in the Lanaudière are grappling with infrastructure damaged by the flooding.

Search continues for 2 missing firefighters near Baie-Saint-Paul

Drone footage of flooding in Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.

5 months ago
Duration 1:14
People have had to leave their homes and roads have been washed away in the Charlevoix region of Quebec.

UPDATE: You can read our latest story here.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes and several towns have declared states of emergency after torrential rains spiked river levels and led to widespread flooding in Quebec.

At least three municipalities are under a state of emergency Tuesday after flooding caused by heavy rain: Baie-Saint-Paul, which is located about 100 kilometres northeast of Quebec City in the Charlevoix region, as well as Saint-Côme and Sainte-Émélie-de-l'Énergie, which are in Lanaudière, north of Montreal.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recorded about 56 millimetres of rainfall in Baie-Saint-Paul, Monday.

Wind gusts of more than 100 km/h were also recorded in Cap-Rouge, Saguenay and Île d'Orléans.

WATCH | Ferocious flooding in some parts of Quebec:

Massive torrent seen at waterfall in Rawdon, Que.

5 months ago
Duration 0:52
As rivers swelled across southern Quebec, cell phone video captured water rushing down Dorwin Falls northeast of Montreal.

In Saint-Urbain, north of Baie-Saint-Paul, the search continues for two firefighters who were swept away by the waves of a swollen river Monday while helping two residents caught in the raging waters. A command post has been set up to co-ordinate search efforts for the firefighters.

The missing firefighters are Christopher Lavoie, 23, and Régis Lavoie, 55, Radio-Canada has learned. The two men are not related.

Sgt. Béatrice Dorsainville, a spokesperson for the  Sûreté du Québec, said she cannot confirm if they are alive or presumed dead, but the search will continue on Wednesday.


More than 500 people have had to leave their homes in Baie-Saint-Paul after the level of the Rivière du Gouffre, which runs through the town, spiked on Monday.

On Tuesday, Baie-Saint-Paul Mayor Michaël Pilote told reporters "the worst is behind us," regarding the rainfall. 

The authorities will help those who have been evacuated to gradually return to their homes, once it is safe to do so, said Pilote.

But he urged those who could not return to their homes to stay with loved ones or community centres offering shelter.

RV swept away by rushing river slams into bridge in Quebec

5 months ago
Duration 0:38
As heavy rain caused rivers to swell in Quebec's Charlevoix region, cell phone video captured a recreational vehicle floating down a rushing river in Baie-Saint-Paul, Que., and colliding with a bridge.

The floodwaters washed out roads and carried debris including several motorhomes, which were filmed on social media smashing into bridges near the town.

As of Tuesday evening, more than 300 Hydro-Québec customers were still without power in the area, down from 1,000 earlier in the day. 

The flooding also affected the town's drinking water supply, but the situation has mostly been restored. There are fewer than 10 homes that are still without potable water, according to town officials.

Nonetheless, a preventive five-minute boil-water advisory has been issued and will remain in effect for Baie-Saint-Paul residents for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The town's general manager, Gilles Gagnon, said the cost of the damage was extensive but could not yet provide a dollar figure on the devastation. 

"For evacuated residents, we ask that you do not return to your residences until we have given you permission," the town's statement said.

François Bonnardel, the minister of public security, surveyed the damage on Tuesday. He said the Red Cross was helping displaced people, and the Canadian Armed Forces and the Coast Guard were assisting in the search for the firefighters. 

Kariane Bourassa, who represents the area in the National Assembly, said the flooding has devastated Baie-Saint-Paul. 

"There are people who built their homes with their hands who will have to reckon with a lot of damage," she said. "We will be there to support them."

Premier François Legault said he would visit the town on Wednesday. 


The Lanaudière region, northeast of Montreal, was also hit hard by flooding. 

Parts of several towns and villages, including Saint-Côme, Chertsey, Rawdon and Sainte-Émélie-de-l'Énergie, were overwhelmed by rising waters.

On Tuesday morning, Saint-Côme Mayor Martin Bordeleau said the Rivière L'Assomption water level had decreased by 30 centimetres since the flooding. 

ECCC rainfall warnings remain in effect for Charlevoix, Saguenay and the North Shore, but Bordeleau said he believes the worst is behind his municipality. 

An overhead shot of a flood zone.
A drone photo provided to Radio-Canada shows the extent of the flooding in Baie-Saint-Paul. (Submitted by Frederick Tremblay)

Raymond Rougeau, the mayor for the town of Rawdon in Lanaudière, said the situation there has stabilized after two roads — Vincent-Massey and Lac-Morgan — were flooded. 

Rougeau said he will be closely monitoring water levels in the coming days to determine whether it is necessary to put in place additional measures. 

The Laurentians

Several roads flooded in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, threatening to cut off emergency access to some areas. 

The Lac-Théodore area in Val-Morin was one such area. Residents there were in danger of being cut off entirely as access roads flooded. Town officials urged residents to leave their homes, warning that those who decided to stay would be cut off from emergency services. 

Low-lying roads and homes near rivers in other Laurentian towns were also flooded, including in Saint-Colomban, where resident Stéphane Houle needed a canoe to leave his home on Tuesday morning. 

Houle moved into his home just a few months ago, on Dec. 14. 

"I knew I was in a flood-risk zone but I didn't know I'd experience this at all," he said. 

As thunder cracked and rain continued to fall, Houle worried the water would rise even higher.

"I think it's going to get worse," he said.


Near the island of Montreal, Louis-Roch Street, which connects L'Île-Bizard to L'Île Mercier, was closed on Tuesday night for safety reasons, according to the borough of L'Île-Bizard. 


Matthew Lapierre is a digital journalist at CBC Montreal. He previously worked for the Montreal Gazette and the Globe and Mail. You can reach him at

with files from Rachel Watts, La Presse Canadienne and Radio-Canada