Eastern Canada Grapples With Extreme Flooding

MONTREAL — Thousands of residents in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick were evacuated from their homes after days of flooding that spurred Montreal and Ottawa to declare a state of emergency and prompted the intervention of Canada’s Armed Forces to help residents.

Over the weekend, a dike was breached in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Quebec, a suburb west of Montreal, sending 5,000 residents fleeing to higher ground, some frantically scooping up their small children, pets and valuables as water came as high as their waists.

Video footage showed a man in a life jacket in a small boat paddling down a street submerged in water. The breach startled residents, many of whom were sitting down for dinner.

No one has been seriously injured in the flooding, and the urban centers in Ottawa and Montreal are largely free from danger.

Speaking from the area over the weekend, the Quebec premier, François Legault, pledged $1 million to the Red Cross to help victims of the flood and praised the “solidarity” of local residents, whose quick mobilization helped prevent injuries or worse.

Speaking in Ottawa on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government needed to ensure that infrastructure spending was being invested in the right projects to “protect our communities.”

Much of the flooding in Ontario and Quebec came from an unusually large amount of snow melting into the Ottawa River combined with heavy rainfall.

Some environmentalists and leading members of the government have linked the latest flooding, as well as record floods in 2017, to weather extremes related to climate change. High water levels are expected to peak in both cities on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Downtown, the river’s water had risen up over docks and a parking lot to reach the back of buildings on the town’s main street. Sandbags, however, appeared to be keeping buildings largely dry.

The flooding also buffeted Atlantic Canada, where flooding of the St. John River caused disruption and damage in the southern part of New Brunswick.

More than 430 homes were evacuated and on Monday morning water levels were just over three feet higher than flood level in Fredericton, the provincial capital. Officials there, however, believe that the flood has peaked.

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