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Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante declares state of emergency as flood waters rise

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With even more rain expected to fall, Montreal has declared a state of emergency for the areas most at risk of severe flooding. “The situation is stable right now, but we’re worried,” said Plante at a news conference in Roxboro-Pierrefonds. “It’s never our first choice to ask people to leave their homes, but we want them to be safe. That’s our first responsibility.”

Residents will not be forced to evacuate, but with water levels continuing to rise the city’s dikes will pushed to the limits. “Our dikes are perfectly adequate for now but nothing guarantees they won’t breach if the water continues to rise,” said Fire Chief Bruno Lachance. “The pressure at the base of the dikes is enormous. If the water raises by 30 centimetres we may not be able to contain it… either it would go over the dike, around it or through it, destroying it in one fell swoop, hitting 30, 40 or 50 houses. The state of emergency gives us a margin of error to react quickly.”

By raising the alert level, Lachance will be able decide on the expenses needed, without requiring the approval of city council – and if necessary he will be able force evacuations. Dikes have already been built along the edges of Lake of Two Mountains near the Ile aux Tourtes bridge, as some water was getting on to Highway 40, but they are confident it will be contained. Right now it is the Pierrefonds, Ile Bizard and Ahuntsic sectors that are the most affected.

Meanwhile residents in areas of Laval and Rigaud who are also affected by the rapidly rising water are being told to evacuate.  According to Environment Canada, areas west and north of Rigaud could see up to 60 mm of rain fall on Friday and Saturday which will see the rivers and streams rising on Sunday and Monday.

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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