Climate-driven flooding ruptures dike in Montreal

Photo: Montreal Gazette

Over the weekend, rainfall and melting snow caused widespread flooding across eastern Canada. As CNA reported, over 6,500 people were told to quickly leave their homes near Montreal late Saturday and early on Sunday after floodwaters breached a dike at Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, causing a surge of water of up to 5 feet to crash through the area. According to the latest government data, nearly 8,000 people have been forced from their homes in Quebec – more than in 2017, during what was then the area’s worst flooding in half a century.

Flood waters rose very quickly giving residents very little time to flee. The CBC explained what this was like from the perspective of one Quebec resident:

“Annie Pépin’s kids were playing outside with her father Saturday as she cleaned the kitchen after supper. Sirens, and the blaring of a police cruiser’s loudspeakers, shattered the evening calm.

“Evacuation now! Evacuation now!” she recalled hearing. “I got outside and I looked at my kids and they were screaming and crying. And then everybody was running.””

After the breach of the dike, some residents described the water flowing our like a “tsunami” due to the force and speed at which it flooded entire neighborhoods. The CBC also reported that “after touring Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac on Sunday, Premier François Legault announced the Quebec government is giving an additional $1 million to help the Red Cross meet the most urgent needs of the evacuees. Meanwhile, efforts to repair the dike are already underway. Authorities are also trying to stem the flow of water by building additional dikes on the flooded streets, and then pumping water back toward the breach. Electricity was shut off to more than 2,000 Hydro clients in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, a boil-water advisory was issued and residents were told not to flush their toilets for fear of sewer backups.”

Why This Matters: Eastern Canada is continuing to experience record flooding that’s being driven by climate change. When heavy rains mix with melting snow it can create catastrophic flooding similar to conditions we recently saw in Nebraska. During the events in Montreal this past weekend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for increased measures to make infrastructure “climate resilient.” He explained that flooding across Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick “highlights how important it is that we fight climate change, that we adapt and mitigate the impacts of more extreme weather events.”



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