Volunteers fill sandbags at the Frank Robinson Arena in Gatineau on Friday, April 26, 2019.
Errol McGihon / Postmedia
When Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin warned Friday that the next week would be long and difficult, he echoed the plight of communities across the province of Quebec.In the national capital region, more than 700 Gatineau residents had registered with the city as flood victims by Friday morning. More than 375 voluntary evacuation notices had gone out and 50 requests for evacuation assistance had been received.The weekend forecast didn’t offer any sign of reprieve, either. It was predicted that, by Monday or Tuesday, water levels would exceed those seen during the devastating flood of May 2017.While everyone responding to the rising water was better prepared this time than they were two years ago, “that doesn’t mean that it’s not difficult for citizens on the ground,” said Pedneaud-Jobin. “Many people will lose a lot.”And flood recovery won’t be easy or quick, he warned – once the water reaches peak levels, it could take up to two weeks to start descending back to normal. That means a long wait for people who’ve left homes in affected areas.In Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante declared a state of emergency Friday as floodwaters were expected to rise along the city’s northwest shoreline. Authorities hadn’t forced evacuations by Friday evening, but they warned that Montreal’s dikes would be pushed to the brink in the days to come.About an hour west of Montreal in Rigaud, the municipality’s fire chief ordered mandatory evacuations in all flooded areas on Friday. And in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, a community about an hour east of Ottawa on Quebec’s southern border, a historic dam over the Rouge River was on the verge of potential collapse. Police began evacuations on Thursday as a precaution.