Quebec flooding: Baie-Saint-Paul, other areas facing high tides


Hundreds of residents have evacuated their homes in Quebec as local crews scramble to repair critical infrastructure after flooding hit several townships in recent days, with authorities saying they are expecting even more rain.


Quebec Public Safety Minister Francois Bonnardel called on Baie-Saint-Paul residents to be patient as repair crews work on local highways and stretches of road destroyed by water.


On Monday, the municipalities of Baie-Saint-Paul, in Charlevoix, and Saint-Côme, in Lanaudière, activated their emergency measures due to rising water, saturating roads, demolishing infrastructure and seriously damaging homes.


Authorities were unable to give a concrete timetable for when the roads would reopen. Bonnardel said that “we have to be realistic.”


Meanwhile, Saint Jerome, Que. is experiencing exceptionally high water as levels reach Quebec’s “major flood” category after several days of rain.


On Tuesday, a handful of flood-monitoring stations reported higher-than-normal waters. The provincial forecast suggests that water levels will remain high for several days.


Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon, near Lac Maskinongé and Pointe-Calumet, near Lac des Deux Montagnes, experienced medium flooding through Tuesday morning. It was a similar situation in the Saint-Agathe-des-Monts area, in Joliette near Dorwin Falls, which surrounds Lac Sainte-Rose near Mastigouche, and on the Rivière Petit Saguenay.


The Mares River flows through Highway 138 after major spring flooding forced road and main highway closures on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in Baie Saint-Paul Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot



Local authorities also launched a search and rescue mission for two firefighters who were swept away by fast currents.


Quebec provincial police said firefighters were trying to evacuate people from their home in Saint-Urbain, in Quebec’s Charlevoix region, before they were swept into the water.


In an update on Tuesday, the provincial police said their investigation is ongoing and the drones and divers were part of the rescue team.


Police asked the families of the firefighters to remain hopeful as crews plan to continue their search through the day.


“We are here to help,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday. Federal personnel were dispatched to assist in the search.


Trudeau also said that Quebec has not yet contacted its government to help with flood relief.


“We are here to help if necessary,” he added.



“In many areas of Baie-Saint-Paul, we have sections of road that are completely torn up. Highway 138, in both directions, is impassable,” Baie-Saint-Paul mayor Michaël Pilote explained on Monday.


“The bridge connecting Baie-Saint-Paul to Les Éboulements is completely inaccessible,” he said. That night, 1,000 people were still without electricity in the municipality.


The municipality is asking its citizens to stay home, inviting those who are forced to leave their homes to contact 911.


Several roads in the city were closed due to flooding and two day care centers were also evacuated. The children were transported to an emergency center set up in the local arena, where their parents came to pick them up at the end of the day.

Two provincial police officers secure a flood-damaged road Monday, May 1, 2023, in Baie Saint-Paul, Quebec. In Baie-St-Paul, Quebec, about 90 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, the mayor declared a state of emergency due to heavy rains that washed away roads and isolated homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot


“I woke up at 1:30 pm in a state of panic,” resident Claudia Fillion told The Canadian Press.


“There are people here who say they haven’t seen this in 50 years,” said another resident, Michel Gobeil. “People who think there is no problem with the environment will be confused.”


“The situation is evolving very fast, it is minute by minute,” Mayor Pilote said. “I am in communication with different levels of government, including the Ministry of Public Safety, Municipal Affairs and Quebec City…we are working with the government.”


Crews are going door to door to make sure everyone still in town is safe.


Meanwhile, the municipality of Saint-Côme, which has also declared a state of emergency, has chosen not to grant interviews while providing urgent assistance to citizens. Information and updates on the situation will be posted on the municipality’s Facebook page.


Late Tuesday morning, the municipality wrote that the evacuation order called for Monday had been lifted. Extensive damage remains on roads, forcing residents to detour to avoid affected areas.


“There are places that split in two,” said resident Chantal Arseneault.


“I’m only ten minutes from town,” he added. “I can’t go to the grocery store or run other errands unless I make a big detour.”



Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says the government is trying to keep up with the growing impact of climate change in Canada.


Asked about emergency preparedness, he linked the flooding to a changing climate.


“What we’re basically seeing is 100-year floods that happen almost every year now, and we know there’s a link to climate change,” he said.


That once-in-a-century comment was echoed by Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who called the images of the Charlevoix floods “devastating.”


“The recurrence of (these floods) forces us all to rethink,” he said.


“It’s not just about rebuilding, it’s about how we can prevent these events,” which are generally expected to happen “once in a decade, once in a century,” he said.


Bonnardel also recognized that municipalities need provincial help to deal with the intensification of the climate. He said the CAQ is mobilizing funds to help small communities protect their shorelines.

Floodwaters surround a home along the Brtas-du-Nord River, Monday, May 1, 2023, in Baie Saint-Paul, Quebec. Provincial police searched Monday for two people swept away by the current in the flooded Rivière du Gouffre, in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, where up to 60 millimeters of rain fell in a 24-hour period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot


“Climate change is hitting us,” he said. But opposition parties say that’s not enough.


Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault will arrive in Baie St-Paul on Wednesday.


“This is a reality,” said Parti Quebecois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. “And unfortunately no, we don’t see any sign of a government really taking this seriously.”


In a press conference, the liberal leader Marc Tanguay suggested that the renegotiation of the fiscal pact could be an opportunity to obtain more money for climate adaptation. “Okay, when a tragedy happens, invest funds to repair, contain. But what can we do upstream? It will take money, ”he said.



Rising river levels are forcing some bus detours in Montreal.


On Tuesday afternoon, the STM reported canceled stops or diversions on four routes. Several more are under surveillance.


You can track bus diversions using the new STM tool launched in February.


— Published with archives from The Canadian Press



#buttons=(Accept !) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Learn More
Accept !