|May 8th, 2017||#1|
Montreal declares state of emergency, starts evacuations as Canada floods rage
A state of emergency has been declared on the island of Montreal, Canada, for the first time since 1998, due to devastating flooding caused by torrential rains and melting snow. The measure allows authorities to order forced evacuations of homes.
Several streets and bridges in the Montreal region have been closed due to flooding. More than a dozen schools were told to remain closed on Monday, Montreal Gazette reported.
Nearly 1,900 homes in 126 Quebec municipalities have been flooded, with more than 1,000 residents leaving the affected areas, the Canadian Press reported, adding that some 1,200 troops were deployed to help evacuate local residents.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said some 220 people in the city had been evacuated from their homes, warning that authorities would be forced to remove people if they refused to comply with evacuation orders.
“I understand that morally or psychologically, physically, mentally, people are very, very tired. We’re talking 24 hours in a row of people helping each other,” Coderre told reporters on Sunday, as cited by the Canadian Press.
“But sometimes we need to protect people from themselves,” he added.
The state of emergency, which was declared after three dikes gave way in Montreal’s Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough, will remain in place for 48 hours. On Tuesday, city officials will decide whether emergency should be prolonged for five more days, Montreal Gazette reported.
Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel warned on Friday that the rain was forecast to reach unprecedented levels, “beyond the worst scenarios that have occurred in the last 55 years.”
Federal and provincial buildings in Gatineau, a city in western Quebec, located on the northern bank of the Ottawa River, closed on Monday, CBC News reported.
Gatineau resident Thomas Little spent days piling sandbags around his property, saying local authorities should have seen the flood coming.
“The Ottawa Valley watershed is controlled by dams. People should have known that the water was coming and was rising,” Little told CBC News.
Little said he decided to stay on his house’s upper floors, his basement filled with water, for fear of looting.
“I don’t even want to estimate what it’s going to cost to fix the structure. It’s going to be very expensive.
“I’ve been here 20 years, I’ve seen nothing like this.”
A small town of Rigaud, west of Montreal, issued a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday. Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. said firefighters would be going door to door to make sure people moved out.
“This is not a request, this is an order. People have to leave,” he said, as cited by Global News.
“If there is any resistance, provincial police will intervene if need be,” the mayor noted.
“People are not in a position to decide their own future anymore.”
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