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03 December 2023

Extensive flooding in eastern Canada forces evacuations

Photo: AFP


Flooding in eastern Canada forced the evacuation of 1,200 people while more than 600 troops have been deployed in response, authorities said Sunday.

Warming weather over the Easter weekend has brought spring floods due to heavy rains and snowmelt from Ontario to southern Quebec and New Brunswick.

A man was killed Saturday in Pontiac, Quebec after he failed to see that a bridge had been swept away by the floods and drove his vehicle into the water.

Authorities, who initially feared a repeat of catastrophic 2017 floods in Quebec, the worst in half a century, appeared more confident about the situation on Sunday.

"We are optimistic about the coming days," said civil security spokesperson Eric Houde.

"There will be significant floods but globally not at the level of 2017, except in certain areas like Lake St. Pierre," a widening of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, he said.

"The big difference from 2017 is the level of preparation of municipalities and citizens," he added.

Over the past several days, towns have mobilized volunteers and distributed tens of thousands of sandbags to erect barriers or protect houses in threatened areas.

The areas most affected Sunday were the region around Ottawa, and Beauce, a region south of Quebec City where nearly 800 people were evacuated. As of midday Sunday, about 1,000 homes had been affected by the flooding in Quebec.

The provincial governments of Quebec and New Brunswick asked for reinforcements from the military. About 200 soldiers had deployed in Quebec by Saturday night, and 400 others near Ottawa; in Laval, just north of Montreal; and in Trois-Rivieres between Montreal and Quebec City.

About 120 additional soldiers were available to be mobilized in New Brunswick.