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Big cleanup planned in flooded Quebec

Street washed out
Street washed out

Lisa Varano, staff writer

June 5, 2011 — A call for volunteers is answered in flood-stricken Quebec.

Sandbagging against floodwater
Sandbagging against floodwater

Close to 10,000 people say they want to help clean up after the worst floods to hit Quebec's Richelieu Valley in 150 years.

More than 3,000 homes have been flooded in the region, southeast of Montreal, since the floods began seven weeks ago.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit the visit flood-stricken Monteregie on Monday, his communications director, Dimitri Soudas, said on Twitter. It will be Harper's first trip to the flood zone.

On Saturday, Quebec Premier Jean Charest toured the flooded areas for the fifth time, and announced details of the cleanup project. He said close to 10,000 volunteers have signed up for the cleanup, which will take place over the next two weekends.

An organization called SOS Richelieu is coordinating the cleanup, slated for June 11 and 12, and June 18 and 19.

Up to 2,000 volunteers will be deployed each day to the east and west banks of the Richelieu to clear debris.

The cleanup will go on no matter the water level, according to a statement from the Quebec government.

Road turned to river
Road turned to river

The Weather Network's French sister station, Meteo Media, says water levels are expected to keep dropping this week, as the risk of heavy rainfall is low.

The floods have taken an emotional toll on the people they have displaced.

“The hardest part is the unknown -- we don't know what's going to happen when we go back,” one of 1,000 people evacuated told The Canadian Press.

“It's like our lives have been taken away.”

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