Flooding latest: Risk of dam failure on Riviere Rouge, bridge to Ile Bigras closed

News source from CTV News

CTV Montreal

Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 4:32PM EDT

Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2019 4:54PM EDT

Some 250 residents in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge are being forced to leave their homes Thursday afternoon due to concerns the nearby Bell Falls Dam could fail.

Sûreté du Québec officers say they are performing the evacuation as a preventative measure due high water levels on the Riviere Rouge.

Public Security is warning people in the affected area to stay away from rivers, valleys and low-lying areas, and to follow instructions of local authorities.

The dam failure alert will be maintained until 11:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the Quebec public security website.

Residents of Lachute, meantime, are dealing with the worst flooding in two decades.

So far, 70 homes have been evacuated, dozens more are not accessible, and officials are keeping a close eye on a seniors’ home.

Bridge to Ile Bigras closed

High water levels in Laval forced the closure of the bridge connecting to Ile Bigras Thursday, meaning people living on the island can no longer enter or leave by car.

Police put the barrier in place at 11 a.m., forcing residents who wanted to leave to walk on the neighbouring bridge that’s under construction.

“We’re kind of in survival mode. We’re trying to just prepare as much as we can,” said resident Mark Leblanc.

Leblanc’s property isn’t flooded but he knows that could very well change.

“Our house is in a valley between the other side of the street, which has ditches, and the river. So if the ditches which hold the rising river level, If that overflows just by a millimetre, then it all trickles down into our property and eventually it will fill up,” he said.

While it’s the second time in three years Leblanc has to worry about water infiltration, he said there’s no way he would take a $200,000 buyout.

“Definitely not. This house is worth much more than that. It would be at a tremendous loss,” he said, adding that he hopes to see more permanent solutions put in place.


Army working in Laval

Meantime the army and city workers are trying to seal off the nearby waterfront community of Laval-Ouest.

“We’re going to be here probably all day. And if they need help in other areas, it’s probably going to be tomorrow, after tomorrow,” said Sgt. Charles Fontaine.

With the help of a private company, large inflatable dikes have been put in place to prevent water from intruding and pumping out any that has already made its way in.

“Inside the barrier, we have a design – it means it stops the barrier to go from side to side. So it’s inflated with water, and the weight of the water makes the barrier stable and stuck on the ground,” explained Laurent-Rene Campeau of Atlas Dewatering. “As soon as we close that section and start to pump, it’s roughly eight hours and the water is going to go down.”

– with files from The Canadian Press

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