Heavy rain combined with spring melt to wash out roads
RV swept away by rushing river slams into bridge in Quebec
As heavy rain caused rivers to swell in Quebec's Charlevoix region, cell phone video captured a recreational vehicle floating down a rushing river in Baie-Saint-Paul, Que., and colliding with a bridge.
Quebec provincial police are searching for two firefighters who were carried away by floodwaters near Baie-Saint-Paul, Que., as heavy rains swelled river levels across the province on Monday.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Baie-Saint-Paul, located about 100 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, said in an afternoon news conference that about 1,000 residents in the downtown area have been isolated by floodwaters which have cut off several roads and bridges.
"We ask people to co-operate and not leave their homes unless they are in danger," said Michaël Pilote. "The place where we are safest right now is in our homes."
The storm that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) predicted would bring 30 to 50 millimetres of rain to the region caused the Rivière du Gouffre, already swollen from spring meltwater, to overflow its banks, flooding roads and sweeping away motorhomes and trees.
Images on social media showed several motorhomes being carried away by the rushing river and smashing into bridges near the town.
According to ECCC, most of the expected precipitation has already fallen but 15 to 25 millimetres of rain could still fall in Charlevoix by Wednesday evening.
Regarding the missing firefighters, Pilote would only confirm that two people are missing as he spoke to the media at around 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
He said authorities in the area had prepared for the arrival of heavy rain well in advance and have been on the ground since 5 a.m., checking in with residents and assuring that people are safe.
While many in the town of about 7,100 are isolated by the waters, others have been forced to flee their homes. If people feel they are in danger, Pilote said they should call for help and rescue personnel, who are at the ready, will come.
Everist Prokofiev, a Baie-Saint-Paul resident said he had never seen the river running so high and so fast.
"I could not believe the speed at which the water was travelling and the height of the river," he said. "Logs, tree stumps shooting by at an incredible rate of speed followed by some refrigerators — random refrigerators."
The water has flooded entire neighbourhoods. Prokofiev said he saw firefighters wading through hip-deep water in some areas.
Baie-Saint-Paul has declared a state of emergency. Town officials evacuated two daycares that were threatened by the floodwaters. People in need of shelter were asked to go to the town's arena, located at 11 Forget St.
Roads and towns in the Lanaudière region, northeast of Montreal, also flooded. Route 347 in Saint-Côme was blocked by flooding in several locations on Monday afternoon.
Saint-Côme municipal officials issued a media release early Monday afternoon, also announcing a state of emergency.
"Due to the heavy rains of the last few days, several roads are damaged and threaten to give way," it said. "We ask for your utmost caution when making mandatory trips."
The officials urged residents of the Domaine du Lac France to evacuate the area because a dam was in danger of breaching.
A Facebook post on the municipality's page asked residents for help filling sandbags at the municipal garage.
The local recreation centre, located at 250 6e Avenue, was available for anyone who needed shelter.
Nearby, in Entrelacs, another Lanaudière town, floodwaters filled parking lots and roads. The town said residents could go to the Groupe Populaire to warm up and get coffee and water.
Meanwhile, thousands of Quebec households lost electricity Monday due to the rainfall and wind gusts. Hydro-Québec deployed more than 440 workers to restore power.
Strong winds in Quebec City downed trees and tossed material and structures, like tempos (temporary car shelters), into the air.
Bill Noonan, a spokesperson for Quebec City's fire department, said firefighters have responded to 22 incidents of dangerous items being carried by the wind and another 15 incidents involving electrical danger, mostly branches hitting wires. At 4:45 p.m., approximately 55,000 customers out of 4.5 million were out of power.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Lapierre is a digital journalist at CBC Montreal. He previously worked for the Montreal Gazette and the Globe and Mail. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from Holly Cabrera and Émilie Warren
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca