1 dead in western Quebec as waters rise and army begins deployment – CBC News

1 dead in western Quebec as waters rise and army begins deployment - CBC News
Flood watch: 1 dead as Quebec braces for tense weekend with army, Red Cross
Authorities remain on high alert for flooding across southern Quebec as waters continue to rise with military on the way to assist in evacuations.

A least one death can be attributed to the flooding. A woman in her 70s was killed early Saturday morning in Pontiac, Que., about 50 kilometres west of Ottawa, when the car she was driving fell into a massive hole created after floodwaters washed out a road, Pontiac's mayor Johanne Labadie said. 

About 40 millimetres of rain fell on the Montreal area since Thursday, with five to 10 millimetres more expected Saturday, according to Environment Canada. Rainfall warnings have been lifted, but water levels were already high and were expected to rise sharply with warm temperatures and snowmelt runoff.

Woman dead after flood waters in Quebec sweep away road

Labadie had said that a passenger may have been injured in the crash, but it was confirmed later that the driver was alone.

Earlier this week, the Chaudiere River burst its banks and flooded a large part of downtown Beauceville, about 90 kilometres south of Quebec City. Officials there called it the worst flooding since 1971, with 230 homes and businesses flooded. At least 28 people remained unable to return home on Friday.

Pontiac and two other municipalities in the Outaouais region, Val-des-Monts and Saint-André-Avellin, declared states of emergency on Friday because of flooding.

"That lady, who was driving by herself on that road, fell into a sinkhole basically because of the flooding. There was a culvert that was not there anymore, so the road was cut in half and she was not able to brake and avoid the accident," Fournel told The Canadian Press.

On Saturday, officials in Beauceville, south of Quebec City, said the Chaudière River was expected to cause major flooding and have given evacuation orders. The town was already hit by flooding earlier this week. 

Beauceville officials have asked for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and military vehicles are on the way to assist with evacuations.

"Today is an important day, were predicting well reach the water levels reached in 2017 in the next 24 hours and even exceed it," said Ginette Bellemare, the acting mayor of Trois-Rivieres, Que., about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

The City of Laval also has asked for help from the Forces, as water levels were expected to rise overnight into Sunday as the snow melts.

Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told a news conference in Quebec City that the risk level hasnt changed in recent days, but authorities now expect the brunt of flooding will begin on Sunday and last longer than expected.

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said on Saturday that Canadian Armed Forces officers had begun working with officials at regional civil security headquarters in five areas: Outaouais; Montreal, Laurentians and Lanaudière; Montérégie and Estrie; and Quebec City and Chaudière-Appallaches.

Pontiac, which sits along the Ottawa River, is one of at least three municipalities in the Outaouais region to declare states of emergency, along with Saint-Andre-Avellin and Val-des-Monts. Trois-Rivieres is also in a state of emergency.

"As a military officer, it's always rewarding to be directly helping our fellow Canadian citizens in their time of need," said Maj. Philippe-Andre Genest, the senior liaison officer for the Forces' Joint Task Force East.  

Thomas Blanchet, a spokesman for the provinces public safety department, said residents should be ready for a sharp spike in water levels that could come quickly, and he implored them to follow the instructions of local officials.

He said reconnaissance teams were on the ground Saturday to determine where the Forces could be best used.

FATAL ACCIDENT : A road was washed during the night because of the spring flooding in the @MuniPontiac and a vehicle fell into the creek. Accident under investigation, more details to come #policemrc pic.twitter.com/1SpSkLJaKY

Radio-Canada has learned that a response unit of up to 350 soldiers at CFBValcartier, northwest of Quebec City, was preparing to deploy Saturday afternoon. 

While the situation could change depending on the weather, Guilbault said she elected to ask for assistance as citizens scrambled to protect their homes while heavy rain warnings were in effect for much of southern Quebec.

Mathieu Lacombe, the MNA for Papineau and the provincial minister responsible for the Outaouais region, tweeted Saturday morning that CAF members are en route to Pontiac.

"The latest data confirms that water levels as high as those observed at the height of the May 2017 flood could be reached, depending on the amount of rain received, by next Monday," the town said in a release.

The rainfall warning for Montreal was lifted Saturday, but authorities remain on alert for flooding across southern Quebec.

On Friday, both the Quebec and New Brunswick governments called for federal assistance — including Canadian Forces soldiers on the ground — as the provinces brace for heavy spring flooding this weekend.

"The water is going to keep rising, even if the rain has stopped," cautioned Éric Houde, director of Quebec's civil security operations.

In Laval, just north of Montreal, officials said some 1,500 homes and businesses were under flood watch. In Montreal, Mayor Valerie Plante toured various parts of the city under flood watch.

A significant amount of snow remains on the ground in river basins around the province, Houde said, and the rain and rising temperatures is causing it to melt rapidly, adding more water to already swollen rivers.

Blanchet said while there are no official evacuation orders in the province, some municipalities have issued preventative orders, such as Rigaud and Pointe-Fortune in southwestern Quebec.

"Today water levels will continue to climb, and tomorrow they will continue to climb," Houde said. "There's still a lot of snow in these areas."

Environment Canada said around 40 millimetres of rain fell on Montreal since Thursday. More fell north of Montreal — up to 60 millimetres in the Laurentians.

"We'll see a warmer temperature tomorrow that will help melt the snow on the ground, especially in the northern regions, and that won't help stop the rising of the rivers," he said.

Cantin said daily temperatures will be in the lower teens until at least Wednesday, with overnights above freezing.

Four of five measurement stations along the river between Masson-Angers, Que., about 30 kilometres east of Ottawa, and Aylmer, Que., just west of Ottawa, are at "red level," meaning buildings are threatened.  

Guilbault said the province will also allow stores — usually closed on Easter Sunday — to remain open this weekend so residents can stock up on supplies.

The area around Rigaud, just west of Montreal, is reporting minor flooding as rivers in the area continue to be under watch.

Officials in several communities are worried the flooding could be even worse than the record flooding of 2017 that forced thousands from their homes.

The mayor of the community has already asked people to leave their homes because of the high risk of flooding.

The accident left her sedan upside down in a swollen stream after rising river levels swept away part of the road in the Outaouais region overnight.

Around the West Island of Montreal, the Rivière des Prairies continues to be under surveillance for flooding.

Rainfall warnings remain in place in the Quebec City region and in the Mauricie region, including Trois-Rivières.

Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie said area residents were shaken by the death, which happened around 3 a.m. The motorist — Lousie Séguin Lortie, 72,  — plunged into a creek swollen with meltwater and rain that feeds into the Ottawa River. She was alone and “unable to avoid the fall,” police said Saturday.

For towns west of Quebec City, in Port Neuf and Pont Rouge, there continues to be a risk for flooding.

And on Saturday morning, City of Gatineau officials held an emergency meeting with the military, which plan to patrol city streets and monitor all infrastructure — notably bridges and Gatineau’s water-treatment plant — as water levels continue to rise in low-lying neighbourhoods.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

With local rivers swollen from melting snow, the amount of rainfall — and its intensity — will be critical factors during the coming hours and days in determining whether the region experiences another significant flood just two years after the disastrous spring of 2017.

The accident happened in Pontiac, roughly 40 kilometres west of Ottawa, where the road had been washed out.

As communities across Quebec continue to fight against spring flooding, local police in the Outaouais region announced Saturday a woman died after rising waters washed out the road she was driving on.

The accident happened around 3:30 a.m. in Pontiac, about 40 kilometres west of Ottawa. The municipality declared a state of emergency on Friday because of rising waters on the Ottawa River.

“The vehicle she was driving fell several meters into a stream where the culvert had already been washed away by the flooding waters,” MRC des Collines police said in a statement. “The investigation confirms … she was unable to avoid the fall.”

In Pointe-Gatineau, where the Gatineau River meets the Ottawa River, police closed a number of side streets Saturday morning as the Moreau Creek swelled and flooded the area.

FATAL ACCIDENT : A road was washed during the night because of the spring flooding in the @MuniPontiac and a vehicle fell into the creek. Accident under investigation, more details to come #policemrc pic.twitter.com/1SpSkLJaKY

This place was hit by the 2017 flood. Theyre not taking any chances this time. In 2017 we were canoeing right here, said Josee Latulippe. pic.twitter.com/XnPhNj5AMX

Troops from the Canadian Armed Forces started being deployed in communities across Quebec on Saturday.

Dozens of volunteers were building sandbag walls around homes while others could be seen moving out furniture — including bed mattresses — as fast as possible.

Hoping to “mitigate the consequences as much as possible” for citizens and infrastructure, Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced Friday the province had asked for help from the Canadian government.

Meanwhile, water levels throughout the region are being monitor closely as rains continued through the night, raising the threat of flooding on both sides of the river.

Guilbault has not specified how many troops would be called into service to assist local authorities on the ground, but noted they would be deployed where most needed and stay as long as needed.

After offering her condolences to the Pontiac woman’s family, Guilbault pleaded with Quebecers to stay safe while the situation worsens over the weekend.

One of the city’s biggest concerns is its water-treatment plant. “We don’t want a crisis within a crisis,” the mayor said.

As of mid-Saturday, Urgence Québec said across the province there were 72 flooded residences, 53 isolated residences and 197 people who were evacuated from their homes.

Please keep children and pets away from rivers and waterways in #ottcity as waters rise this weekend. #ottnews pic.twitter.com/4YLZ8cJVBe

Environment Canada has lifted a rainfall warning for the greater Montreal area. The forecasts had been calling for between 30 and 60 millimetres of rain through Saturday afternoon. Roughly 30 millimetres of rain fell on Friday.

One person was killed early Saturday morning when their vehicle was swept off the road in Pontiac when a culvert washed out the road.

The Sûreté du Québec has put mobile command posts in place in Beauceville and Rigaud, two of the hardest hit areas so far. Police officers have been going to door to ensure everyone is safe.

Friends of home owner Andy McCallum on Île Mercier in Pierrefonds help him prepare for the expected flooding from the Rivière des Prairies on Friday, April 19, 2019. Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE

“The water is rising and it’s going to come fast,” said the mayor, who expects peak levels on Sunday or Monday.

In Beauceville, 38 homes were flooded and 47 people were evacuated. Some were allowed to return to their homes after safety checks. The Canadian Red Cross has set up shop in the municipal library to help anyone in need.

174 closed from Cameron to Old Montreal – flood preparations. Follow signed detour. Expect delays. #otttraffic

In Rigaud on Friday, residents were preparing for the worst, but also remaining stubborn about leaving their homes behind. In all, 24 people were forced to evacuate.

The military will not be protecting private property, as it’s unable to protect every home from rising water.

In Laval, one of the first cities to declare a state of emergency earlier this week, four sand loading sites have been set up as of Saturday morning. A disaster service centre equipped with Red Cross personnel, located at the city’s Accès service centre, is now open 24 hours a day.

Further north, MRC des Collines police said they have closed Eardley Road which connects Masham to Luskville.

The city has established 1,500 addresses are in danger of flooding. The city said each one will receive two pallets of sandbags before the end of Saturday.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Friday the city is focusing on areas most affected by flooding in the past, including Ahuntsic, Pierrefonds and Île Bizard, where blue-collar workers, firefighters and volunteers have been helping residents get ready for what might come.

“We’ve put a lot of energy into it but, ultimately, it is Mother Nature who decides things,” Plante said.

Plante said no large-scale evacuations are anticipated in Montreal for the time being, but as a precaution, the city moved some people out of a few centres where physically challenged people reside in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough. The regional health board later sent out a tweet stating 22 patients at Pavillon Pierrefonds were moved to another location.

Pierrefonds-Roxboro opened a “Multi-service Flood Assistance Centre” on Saturday morning at the Pierrefonds Cultural Centre.

Through the night, the borough delivered sandbags to all homes on Maçons St., added pumps to a dike on Chateau-Pierrefonds St. and installed “hundreds of metres” of barriers along Lalande Blvd.

While announcing she had asked for the army’s help on Friday, Guilbault said the situation was developing as expected but, depending on the weather, the worst of the flooding might only come on Sunday, instead of Saturday as first thought.

Large water-filled barriers sit alongside Rive-Boise St. in Pierrefonds. Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Massive pumps are ready to divert water from flooding the underground drainage system in Pierrefonds. Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE