Maniwaki, Que., long-term care home evacuating over flood risk

The rising waters of the Gatineau River are forcing an evacuation of the Foyer Père-Guinard long-term care home in Maniwaki on Friday. 

68 residents being relocated to local hospital, hotel

The Gatineau River has reached a 'critical' water level forcing the Friday evacuation of the long-term care home Foyer Père-Guinard in Maniwaki, Que. (Stéphane Leclerc/Radio-Canada)

The rising waters of the Gatineau River are forcing an evacuation of the Foyer Père-Guinard long-term care home in Maniwaki, Que., on Friday. 

The plan is to relocate the 68 residents to two different locations: 14 needing more care will be taken to the Maniwaki Hospital, while the remaining 54 will go to the Château Log hotel. 

"We're going to start after breakfast and we estimate by the end of the day that we should have relocated all of our 68 residents," Benoit Major, director of elder care services at local health authority CISSSO, told reporters in a Thursday press conference. 

Major says the evacuation could last a week or more. 

This is not the first time the home in Maniwaki has been evacuated because of the risk of flooding; it also happened in 2017 and 2019. The facility sits on an off-shoot of the Gatineau River, the Désert River. 

The home during flooding in 2017. (Estelle Côté-Sroka/Radio-Canada)

Major said the frequent evacuations will no longer be a problem once a new long-term care home opens. It is currently under construction and slated to open in 2024. 

Upstream melt is the cause

The mayor of the community north of Ottawa-Gatineau told Radio-Canada Thursday evening that no other evacuations are planned for the rest of the town. 

Francine Fortin said the town had learned from past floods and is prepared. The municipality launched its emergency plan on Wednesday and told residents that some roads may have to be closed.

Rain and snow melt have caused excess water in Hydro-Québec reservoirs further upstream and the company must release some, according to a spokesperson, who also said they are doing what they can to contain it. 

Right now, Hydro-Quebec does not anticipate any risk for Gatineau, Que., residents, but is asking those along the Gatineau River to be on alert for the next few days.

With files from Radio-Canada's Alexandra Angers and Fiona Collienne