Montreal

After breached dike, Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac residents face uncertain future

Some residents of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac will be able to return to their homes tomorrow, as flood waters recede from the Lake of Two Mountains following a break in the dike Saturday that forced the evacuation of a third of the town.

Some will be able to return home tomorrow afternoon

Residents are seen Monday waiting to gain access to their homes affected by flooding in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Some residents of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac will be able to return to their homes tomorrow, as flood waters recede from the Lake of Two Mountains following a break in the dike Saturday that forced the evacuation of a third of the town.

Mayor Sonia Paulus, whose own home was flooded, said Monday the flood waters are gradually going down.

Workers are building two smaller dikes perpendicular to the water in an effort to stop the flooding from spreading further into the side streets.

"It's getting better," Paulus said.

More than 2,500 homes were evacuated. While the vast majority of evacuees are staying with friends and family, some are staying at a nearby hockey arena that's been converted into a shelter, with cots set up at ice level.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, some of those residents will be able to return to their homes. However, the evacuation order will remain in place for those living between 22nd and 29th Avenue, south of Louise Street

"The situation remains critical," Paulus said. "We're counting on the collaboration of citizens, and we sincerely thank them for their patience."

In a briefing Monday, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the evacuation order is still in effect, but some people are being allowed to briefly return to their houses to get belongings, medication and pets.

They can get the go-ahead to visit their homes, accompanied by emergency personnel, by signing up at Liberté-Jeunesse high school.

The Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Milles-îles announced that schools and daycare service will reopen tomorrow, but bus service will be reduced.

Municipality pressed for improvements

The breached dike flooded homes and vehicles a half-kilometre from the lake.

In response to questions from reporters, Guilbault acknowledged that Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac had wanted to make improvements to the dike and had sent a request to the province's Environment Ministry in February. 

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault addressed reporters on Monday. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Guilbault said the government was still analyzing that request when the dike was breached. It will now be considered as part of a broader assessment of how to respond to this spring's flooding, she said.

"The municipality will, of course, receive an answer, but what is important to say is that we will have to have a larger reflection on how to prevent more flooding," she said.

Meanwhile, municipal authorities in Pointe-Calumet, just west of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, said Monday they are taking steps to reinforce their own natural dike.

"The base of the dike remains solid," said the municipality in a statement. "The work is being done as a preventive measure. We want to ensure maximum security for our citizens."

With files from Radio-Canada's Pascal Robidas

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