Premier urges safety as Canadian troops deployed to help with Quebec flooding

Five squadrons of Canadian Forces soldiers from CFB Valcartier have been dispatched to help the flood relief effort in Quebec.

Province received more rain last night than the whole month of May 2016

Hundreds of members of the Canadian Forces have been called in to assist with controlling rising water levels in Quebec. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada)

More than 400 military personnel have been deployed to help the flood relief effort in Quebec.

Canadian Forces troops from CFB Valcartier headed to Gatineau, Laval, Rigaud and the Mauricie region of Quebec and aother unit will be set up as a command post in Montreal. 

Lt. Delphine Bonnardot (Navy) told CBC News that the army is currently in talks with the province on how resources can be best deployed.

Water levels have risen across Quebec as rain continues to fall. Between Friday and Saturday night, more rain fell than during the entire month of May 2016.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard walks across a makeshift bridge as he visits a flooded residential area in the town of Rigaud. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said his thoughts are with those in the province who are affected by the flooding. Flanked by his senior ministers, he said safety is the number one priority. 

"Everybody wants to help," he said. "All Quebecers want our fellow Quebecers to feel safe. That's the first priority."

Flooding in Pierrefonds seen from above

5 years ago
Duration 0:55
This is what Pierrefonds looks like from above as flooding continues to plague some parts of Quebec. Submitted by Daniel Meli.

Rehab centre evacuated

A Montreal rehabilitation centre has been evacuated as a precaution as water levels in the adjacent Rivière des Prairies continue to rise.

Forty-eight residents of the Pavillon Pierrefonds of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal have been moved. Gaétan Barrette, the province's health minister, said all of the residents have severe mental or physical disabilities.

"They are not in a situation to understand what's happening," he said.

Residents have been taken to other health-care centres, where they'll stay for the next three weeks.

State of emergency in Oka, Que.

Water levels also drastically rose overnight in Oka, a small village bordering the Ottawa River about 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal. The municipality has declared a state of emergency and local authorities officially asked for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces on Saturday.

Several streets are closed to traffic and residents are scrambling to protect their homes from water damage.

Steven Gabriel is using three separate pumps and a slew of sandbags in hopes of saving his house from flooding.

"It's just relentless," he said. "It's been about 20 years since it's been like this."

Steven Gabriel, far right, lines sandbags along his home in Oka. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

While his backyard is sinking due to accumulated water, Gabriel said he's taken comfort in the community banding together to help one another out.

"Everyone is working together," said Gabriel. "At least there's that — we're not alone."

More rain coming

According to Environment Canada, between Friday and Saturday evening, up to 80 millimetres of rain will have fallen in the Ottawa River and that water is headed downstream toward Montreal.

"It usually takes a few days for all of that precipitation to increase the water level of those rivers," said Bruno Marquis, Environment Canada meteorologist.

As of Saturday evening, 126 municipalities across the province are dealing with flooding, in the regions of Montreal, Laval, the Montérégie, Mauricie, Lanaudière and the Laurentians.

"We think it's very appropriate to ask for additional resources, additional efforts from the armed forces and I'm very happy that we had the entire collaboration of the federal government in this respect," said Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux.

He said even when the waters recede, some areas will continue to be affected for weeks to come.

Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the army will work with local authorities to co-ordinate relief efforts.

​Islands under water

Authorities in Laval have recommended that residents leave their homes on the low-lying Île Verte and Île-Roussin. They, along with Île Mercier in Montreal, have seen heavy flooding over the past few days. 

A resident walks through the flooded Île Mercier streets. People there may be forced to leave their homes as rising water overtakes the island. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The bridge connecting the Île Mercier to Montreal is completely closed to all vehicles, including emergency vehicles. On Friday, Montreal's mayor said there was a possibility of a mandatory evacuation order being authorized to remaining residents.

Île Mercier is home to about 50 properties and around 20 homes are still occupied.

According to Quebec authorities:

  • 126 cities and municipalities have been affected.
  • 1,867 residences are flooded.
  • 1,065 people have left their homes.
  • 409 roads have been affected by the floods.

With files from Kalina Laframboise