Thousands of Canadians have been evacuated from their homes as a result of severe flooding and rising water levels, while thousands more are working to stem the flow of water.
Across the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick, thawing snow and heavy rain have led to record-high water levels in some places. Thousands of volunteers and residents, as well as the military, have been working to save homes.
The Canadian Armed Forces has deployed troops to help flood-hit regions across all three provinces. More members of the military are involved in fighting flooding in eastern Canada right now than in combat zones overseas.
“We don’t have any limit. It’s all based on the situation. If more are needed, we will always make more troops available,” Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said.
Authorities have asked homeowners in many of the at-risk areas to evacuate while the roads are still usable.
In Ontario, a state of emergency was declared in the city of Ottawa on April 25 in response to flooding of the Ottawa River, which is expected to continue rising over the next few days.
The state of emergency allows the government to seize land and force evacuations.
The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board forecasts levels to surpass a record set in May 2017, with the flooding expected to peak over the next few days. Some areas, like the Britannia neighborhood, already set new records over the weekend.
More than 5,000 people have reportedly signed up since late last week to volunteer with filling sandbags and supporting owners of homes along the Ottawa River that are in danger of flooding.
Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his children, who reside in Ottawa, made an appearance to help fill sandbags.
Canadian troops are also helping to pack and stack sandbags in smaller communities along the river, several of which have also declared states of emergency.
Across the river in Quebec, nearly 6,500 residences have been flooded and more than 9,500 people have been forced from their homes, according to the latest numbers from the provincial government’s emergency situation information hub.
Montreal declared a state of emergency on April 26 in order to deal with the flooding. There were concerns that rain over the weekend would overwhelm the dikes around the city, but water levels ended up lower than expected.
“The situation is under control, but we hope to have all the means at our disposal,” Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said at a city council meeting, CBC reported.
However, a more severe situation is playing out in the suburb of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, where the nearby lake burst through a natural dike on the night of April 27.
More than 5,000 residents grabbed what they could and fled their homes as waist-high water filled the streets, while another 1,500 were evacuated the next day. Provincial and local police, soldiers, and the fire department went door-to-door to vacate the area. Nobody was reported injured or missing.
About a third of the town is under water, CBC reported. The Canadian Red Cross is on the scene offering assistance.
New Brunswick also faces floods in some places, although water levels are expected to recede in the coming days.
According to satellite imagery collected by Service New Brunswick, 16,155 properties have been impacted by floodwater, although not all the buildings on those properties were flooded.
The Canadian Coast Guard wrote an update on Twitter that they had six boats in the area assisting with evacuations, as well as a helicopter.
“We want to recognize all of the volunteers who continued to provide significant support during the weekend,” said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Management Office.
With files from The Canadian Press