As of Tuesday morning, 10,149 people had been forced to leave their homes due to floodwaters and a total of 6,681 homes had been flooded.
Though most signs point to floodwaters beginning to recede across Quebec, this year’s spring floods have now forced more than 10,000 people across the province to leave their homes.
More than half the people affected live in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, west of Montreal, where a dike was breached Saturday, sending floodwater across one-third of the small town’s homes.
An evacuation order that forced 6,000 people from their homes when the dike was breached should be partially lifted by 4 p.m. Tuesday, the town announced. The order will be maintained for the most flooded part of the town, between 22nd and 29th Aves.
What happened to the dike in question, and for how long the town or provincial government knew it had issues, has become a crucial question for Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac residents living through the flooding.
In an interview on LCN Tuesday morning, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault confirmed the Quebec Environment Ministry noted issues with the dike in 2009 and completed emergency repairs.
Mayor Sonia Paulus has said the town asked the government for permission to make the dike higher after the historic 2017 floods, but that the government dragged its feet in responding in time.
Guilbault, however, says the government only received the request in February, too late to make a difference for this year.
“The work will be done this fall, but it isn’t necessarily work that touches on the same section of the dike that was breached three days ago,” Guilbault said.
Guilbault said she understands the frustration and confusion coming from Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac residents. But all in all, she added, “we’re lucky there were no injuries or deaths and that everyone made it out OK.”
As of Tuesday morning, 10,149 people had left their homes across the province. A total of 6,681 homes had been flooded and 3,458 homes were cut off from their communities by floodwaters.
On Monday, Quebec Premier François Legault warned those hoping to restore their homes after the flooding to think twice before doing so.
“I want to insist that people who have serious damage should seriously think about moving (out of the flood zone),” Legault told reporters.
In Ottawa on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that once people have returned home after the floods, Canada will need to have a “national reflection” to see if they can rebuild their homes and how.
Trudeau said he was ready to partner with provinces that have been hit hard by “extreme weather events,” such as the floods in Quebec.
The various levels of government will have to decide, with the affected citizens, whether they will “move or rebuild differently,” Trudeau said.
Federal Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne wrote to the Quebec government last week to let authorities know there are federal funds and programs available to help flood victims.
He says he will look at projects “urgently and with priority” as soon as Quebec puts them on his desk.
Presse Canadienne contributed to this report.