Most of the dikes, which are under extreme pressure, were hastily built as a temporary way to hold back spring floods, said Martin Guilbault, operations chief of the Montreal fire department.
Climbing on top of the dikes to snap selfies could cause them to breach, he said. That, in turn, could lead to a disaster like the one unfolding in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que.
"The dike is in great stress, holding all that water, so we want a minimum of people around the dikes," he said. "It's important for the safety of everyone."
He added that driving around flooded neighbourhoods to view the damage is hindering the circulation of emergency vehicles. It has been a problem for several days and it needs to stop, he said.
Various areas throughout the province of Quebec remain in a state of emergency as flooding water levels continue to do damage.
"We don't want you to do that," he said. "We want you to stay home or if you have time, go volunteer and fill sandbags."
Montreal has so far escaped the worst of the flooding, though a state of emergency is in effect until at least Thursday.
About 100 people have been forced out of their homes and more than 2,000 residences have been inspected already in the most vulnerable zones, including ÎleBizard, Sainte-Geneviève and Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
As flood waters continue to put pressure on the city, Guilbault said the fire department has been focused on prevention — monitoring water levels and dikes around the clock.
Nine multidisciplinary teams, which include rescue officials, building inspectors and electricians, are going door-to-door in flooded neighbourhoods to make sure properties and people are safe.
"They inspect house by house to make sure the people inside are OK," Guiilbault said, noting some homes are inspected two or three times in 24- to 48-hour periods.
"If it is dangerous, or the situation for those people is jeopardized, they are going to suggest evacuation."
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Those remaining have been issued a boil-water alert and are advised not to flush toilets to avoid risk of sewer backup.
Emergency workers urged another 1,500 residents of a flood-ravaged suburb west of Montreal to leave their homes Sunday, one day after floodwaters broke through a natural dike northwest of the city and forced some 5,000 others to flee with only the clothes on their backs.
Residents of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac left behind medication, wallets and pets as the Lac des Deux Montagnes breached the dike at about 7 p.m. Saturday. Soldiers, firefighters and police, sirens blaring, patrolled the streets and pounded on doors to get homeowners to leave.
Sunday’s evacuation was a preventative measure, said Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. Two shelters have been set up for evacuees in neighbouring Deux-Montagnes and some 2,500 homes were impacted.
“Nobody has been injured, no problems,” Guilbault said in Quebec City. “Everyone is safe this morning. That is very important.”
These are big numbers and the coming hours are critical, Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said. She added: There is no rain forecast until at least Wednesday. It should stabilize conditions and allow everyone to catch their breath.
Guilbault said the coming hours would be critical in the province as floodwaters continue to rise, but she took some comfort in the fact there is no rain in the forecast until Wednesday.
That “will bring some respite on the ground and will at last give our teams and all the evacuees a chance to catch their breath a bit.”
On Saturday evening, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police used an amphibious vehicle to help evacuate people. Premier Legault said in a tweet on Twitter that Canadian soldiers were also on the scene.
The SQ evacuation work continued Sunday morning, with helicopters in use and an estimated 200 officers conducting door-to-door checks to make sure everyone had left their homes. Compulsory evacuation orders have been extended to residents of about 100 streets west of 26th Ave. to Louise St., further south.
The displaced residents were taken to Deux-Montagnes arena, in the neighbouring municipality, where information, accommodation and emergency services are available. Red Cross volunteers were on site, assessing needs and offering support.
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Across the province, Red Cross spokesperson Carl Boisvert says they are caring for about 1,000 Quebecers, with about two-thirds relocated to hotels. About 100 volunteers and more than 30 staff are providing this support in 11 municipalities and are monitoring the needs of 22 other cities.
Urgence Québec says those remaining in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac have been issued a boil-water alert and are advised not to flush toilets to avoid risk of sewer backup.
Hours before the breach at a Montreal press conference, the premier counselled courage to residents in water logged areas of the province who face a few more difficult days.
Following Ottawa and many smaller communities in Quebec and Ontario, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon in the face of flood threats that rose sharply Thursday after optimistic views earlier in the week that the worst had passed. Montreal city council held an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon, where they extended the state of emergency by five days. It was the first time since city hall was rebuilt in 1926 that Montreal city council was meeting outside the building.
As of 8:15 a.m. Sunday, the ministry of public securitys figures are unchanged for Montreal — 94 residences have been flooded, 49 surrounded by water and 55 evacuated, but the numbers provincewide are climbing
Across the province, 5,584 homes have been flooded (up from 3,584 Saturday, 3,017 Friday night), 3,188 surrounded and 7,686 people evacuated (up from 2,572 Saturday). In Rigaud, the area previously hardest hit, the numbers stand the same at 685 people subjected to evacuation.
An estimated 50 landslides have been reported in Quebec in relation to the flooding. As well, many roads and bridges have been closed, notably the Galipeault, cutting access off island via Highway 20. Transport ministry spokesperson Martin Girard advised residents to avoid unnecessary travel or consult Quebec 511 (quebec511.info).
On Saturday afternoon, Legault had noted that swollen rivers south of Quebec City are finally receding, however, he said water levels in the corridor along the St. Lawrence and Outaouais rivers between Montreal and the boundary with Ontario weren’t expected to peak before Monday or Tuesday.
In the Ottawa area, flooding forced the closure of a bridge linking Ottawa and Gatineau. In a statement Saturday, Public Services and Procurement Canada announced that the Chaudière Bridge would be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles starting at 6 a.m. Sunday, with traffic being redirected to the nearby Portage Bridge.
Also on Saturday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau banned marine navigation in several areas, including a stretch of the Outaouais River between Ottawa-Gatineau and the Carillon generating station, as well as on Lake of Two Mountains, Rivière-des-Mille-Iles and Rivière-des-Prairies.
“To address an urgent situation, today I issued an order to prohibit navigation in specific areas of flooding in order to protect the safety of residents and help first responders to do their jobs,” Garneau said in a statement.
Anyone caught breaking the ban, which applies to all non-emergency vessels, faces a fine of up to $5,000.
Meanwhile, in central Ontario’s cottage country officials said water levels were up slightly due to rain on Friday, but they were hopeful some late-season snow would act as a sponge and help slow the flow of water into lakes, rivers and streams.
The best news comes from southern New Brunswick, where the forecast calls for floodwaters to slowly recede in most areas over the next five days.
Ten-year-old Xavier Poitras, who has cerebral palsy, helps his mother, Caroline Bouchard, right and brother Benjamin fill sandbags in Vaudreuil-Dorion on Sunday, April 28, 2019. Peter McCabe / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Transport Quebec workers use salting trucks to fill sandbags to place along Highway 40 westbound on Sunday, April 28, 2019. Peter McCabe / THE CANADIAN PRESS
First responders assemble on a road in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Local residents were evacuated Saturday night at supper time, with very little notice. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
First responders look on as a Canadian Forces armoured vehicle drives on a road towards the flood zone in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. The road has been blocked due to a broken dike which has prompted officials to evacuate hundreds of people in the area. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Residents use a boat to make their way through flood waters in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac Saturday, April 27, 2019. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
A member of the Canadian Forces, right, directs an evacuee and his dog in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS