Thousands forced to flee Montreal suburb after dike breaches

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Thousands forced to flee Montreal suburb after dike breaches

by - 2 min read

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Nobody was injured and nobody is missing after an estimated 2,500 homes in an off-island suburb of Montreal were evacuated when a dike holding back the Lake of Two Mountains breached.

As many as 6,000 people were forced to flee Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac — a third of the town — as water reached half a kilometre into the residential area northwest of Montreal.

Emergency services, supported by provincial police officers and the Canadian Armed Forces, are on the scene this morning going door to door, making sure everybody is out of harm’s way.

Residents were sitting down for dinner when they were told to clear out as the water rushed in Saturday evening after an estimated 50-metre section of the natural dike breached. 

By 10 p.m., the water had risen nearly two metres in the worst-hit areas and the water was still rising on Sunday, according to provincial police.

Vehicles — including at least one police cruiser — were abandoned in the streets and homes emptied in just a few hours.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” said resident David Tremblay this morning. His father-in-law has lived in the area since 1970, he added, and he’s never seen anything like it either. Although there’s been spring flooding in the past, he said, it has never “reached as high levels as it did.”

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said on Twitter that the evacuees will be housed at the Olympia Arena in neighbouring Deux-Montagnes. Residents were also brought to the local Royal Canadian Legion branch.

The Canadian Red Cross is on the scene, offering assistance to evacuees. 

This morning, efforts to repair the dike are underway. Electricity has been shut off to more than 2,000 Hydro clients in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, a boil-water advisory has been issued, and residents are being told not to flush their toilets for fear of sewer backups.

Provincial police say a command centre has been set up in the town to coordinate operations throughout the day.

Marc Garneau, Canada’s minister of transport, has restricted the use of boats in flooded zones — including those around Montreal.

In a statement published Saturday evening, non-emergency vessels are prohibited in parts of the Ottawa River near the capital city, but also in the Montreal area, including the Lake of Two Mountains, the Mille-Îles River and the Rivière-des-Prairies.

Police at all levels are authorized to direct any vessel to stop or move out of the affected area. In case of non-compliance a fine up to a maximum of $5,000 could be issued.

Quebec Premier François Legault is telling residents in water logged areas of the province that they face a few more “difficult” days ahead and to “have courage” until the flood threat eases.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, Urgence Québec says 3,584 residences are flooded, 3,101 are isolated by floodwaters and 2,572 people have been forced out of their homes. 

This story originally appeared on CBC

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