Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue presents new emergency plan to deal with floods

A meeting in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue presented residents with the city's emergency plan to deal with large-scale natural disasters, like flooding. It comes after floods devastated several cities and towns across Quebec last year.

Mayor Paola Hawa says she wants residents to feel secure and know what to do in case of major flooding

Residents of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue were forced to use sand bags to protect their homes from severe flooding last year. (CBC)

After spring flooding devastated several municipalities west of Montreal last year, the suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue wants its residents to know that it has everything under control.

That's why the city held an information session on Wednesday night to unveil its emergency preparedness plan, especially devised to respond to fresh floods.

"People need to feel secure and know that should it occur again, we're ready," Mayor Paola Hawa told CBC News ahead of the meeting.

The city organised the meeting to inform residents about how it will spread the word if there's a risk of flooding in the future, how to avoid property damage and how water levels are managed in the area.

A person is posing for a photo.
Mayor Paola Hawa says she wants residents of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue to feel secure knowing the city has things under control. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Hawa also said she wanted people to understand why last year's events happened the way they did.

"I think it's just going to help secure and reassure people that it will be under control — as much as Mother Nature will allow us to control," she said.

Quebec orders municipalities to prepare

Earlier this month, the provincial government ordered each municipality in Quebec to come up with an emergency plan to respond to flooding.

The order came after last spring's devastating floods forced thousands of people from their homes and caused severe property damage in several cities and towns.

Two-thirds of Quebec municipalities did not have up-to-date plans to respond to natural disasters, the province said.

Ste-Anne Farmer's Market in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue was forced to relocate, after water crept into its usual location. (Sarah Leavitt/ CBC)

Areas west of Montreal and in the Outaouais region were particularly hard-hit.

Hawa said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue held the meeting on its own initiative, to better inform its citizens.

In Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, flooding submerged parts of the boardwalk along the canal last May and the city distributed sand bags to residents to prevent water damage.

A risk of flooding also forced the local farmer's market to temporarily relocate from its usual waterfront location.

Residents concerned

Gary Townsend lives in an apartment building in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

While he wasn't affected by last year's flooding, he said he "came pretty close" and the issue remains one of his concerns.​

"I think it's a good step," he said about the meeting, adding that he's looking forward to hearing how he can best protect himself from flooding.

Local resident Gary Townsend said though he wasn't affected by last year's flooding, the issue remains a big concern. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

People from other West Island communities also turned out to attend the meeting, including Paul Brant, who lives in nearby Baie D'Urfé.

"We heard about this and we thought we should be here to find out what they're doing," he said.

For her part, Hawa said she didn't expect floods anywhere like last year's.

But it's better to be prepared.

"Last year was really a perfect storm, a whole bunch of things coming together at the same time which created that situation and we're not seeing it this year," she said.

"So, keep our fingers crossed and hopefully Mother Nature will behave herself this year."

With files from Kate McKenna