Flood waters have been inundating homes in Quebec's Richelieu Valley this week and emergency officials expect water levels to rise through the weekend as well.
Between 30 and 60 mm of rain have soaked several communities. That combined with a melting snowpack has left up to 3,000 homes affected by flooding in recent days. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the area. While the rain began to taper on Friday afternoon, residents say there's a lot of clean-up to do.
“I've only lived here for five years, in the area of Saint Jean, and from neighbours that have been living here longer, they said this is the worst they've seen in over 20 years,” says Quebec resident Sean Moore. “This is pretty bad. It's kind of scary.”
The streets of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu have been lined with sandbags and a lot of people have resorted to boats and canoes to get around.
Locals have also been told to try and conserve water where possible.
“We're trying to use the bathroom as least as possible. Not washing our clothes because the city asked us to not over-tax the sewer system, so we're trying to cut back as much as possible,” explains Moore.
The Quebec government has said it will offer financial assistance to communities affected by the floods. Quebec's Premier, Jean Charest, toured the affected areas on Thursday. He called in the Canadian Forces earlier this week to help with relief efforts.
“When these events happen there is a contact established with all those that can help, including the armed forces,” said Charest. “We've specifically asked them to deploy themselves to physically help on the ground given the fact this has gone on for a while and there is a certain amount of fatigue within the population for those who are affected by this.”
About 800 troops are working in the Monteregie area, using inflatable boats to rescue stranded residents and placing sandbags.
Officials expect little change in water levels over the coming week.
The Richelieu River is fed by Lake Champlain, which authorities say has reached its highest level in history. Hundreds of homes in Vermont and upstate New York have been damaged or destroyed since the lake entered flood stage.
With files from Andrea Stockton and the Canadian Press