The Canadian army headed to various regions of Quebec on Saturday to help cope with the heavy flooding caused by unrelenting rain in Central and Eastern Canada in recent days.
The Canadian Forces personnel were deployed to western and central Quebec and in and around the Montreal area as water levels continued to threaten hundreds of residences.
"People are tired physically and emotionally and municipal authorities are running on empty in terms of resources," said Eric Houde, director general of Quebec's civil security services. More than 130 communities in the province have been hit by the flooding, with residents forced to evacuate. They were transported to other locations.
Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel said Friday that rain in the province was forecast to reach historic levels — "beyond the worst scenarios that have occurred in the last 55 years."
Residents in Ile-Bizard, an island just northwest of Montreal that has been badly affected by the flooding, were still trying to cope Saturday with the rising water levels.
Steve Lapierre, who lives in a basement apartment, said he was awakened by a neighbour who told him about the flooding.
"I got up, and I immediately stepped into water," said Lapierre. "It was already too late."
"It's disastrous and it (the water) is rising every day. We don't know what's going to happen."
On the other side of the street, Dora Soares' family had built a wall out of sand bags, a tactic that at least helped keep their garage dry.
"Panic is starting to set in," said Soares. "The rain and the thunder aren't helping. It's very worrying.
"Thank goodness our friends brought us a rowboat."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard visited the Montreal-area community of Rigaud late Saturday afternoon and urged people to listen to authorities if they recommend they leave their homes.
"I understand that people are hesitant to leave their residences," he said. "But I would like to reiterate my appeal. If you're asked to leave your home, do so. It's for your own safety."
In the eastern Ontario village of Cumberland, Christina Hajjar says the main levels of most homes in her neighbourhood are under water.
"Our houses are pretty much goners," Hajjar, whose family lost two homes to flooding, said in an interview Saturday evening. But she said the community is working to save other houses.
"At least three of them that were potentially going to be lost to the flood — a fourth, unfortunately, the barricades kinda fell and within seconds the house was full of water," Hajjar said.
The government has activated the Disaster Response Program in Montreal, Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., to help residents impacted by the flooding in Quebec and Eastern Ontario.
The short-term rental website says in the event of major emergencies it tries to help residents who have been displaced — as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers — find temporary accommodations with local hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.
Wet weather also swept across Atlantic Canada on Saturday, with waterlogged southwestern New Brunswick expected to bear the brunt of the downpour. Environment Canada meteorologist Steve Fougere said 30 to 50 millimetres of rain had already soaked New Brunswick and that another 50 millimetres was expected to drench the southwestern area of the province. The rest of the province was set to see another 20 to 40 millimetres.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were expected to be hit with 30 to 40 millimetres overnight Saturday night.
Many other provinces have also seen several days of relentless rain. No sign of stopping for a few more days at least. Stay warm and dry Canucks and get ready for snow on Sunday. I love spring.