Human-Centred Solutions Demanded for Spring Flooding

Devastating Floods in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick

Quebeckers fight back the flood waters.

Devastating floods have seriously affected regions of Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario. A provisional report published by Urgences Québec on April 28 said that in Quebec, 6,424 homes were flooded, 3,508 dwellings isolated by water and 9,522 had been evacuated. In New Brunswick, the province's Emergency Management Organization reports that as of May 2, 518 households (1,262 people) have registered with the Red Cross and 141 households (410 people) are being sheltered. In Ontario, while the province itself does not appear to have released any overall figures, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale stated on April 30 that about 1,600 people had been evacuated from their homes, most of whom are from the northern Ontario Kashechewan First Nation on James Bay (see item below).

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources map, showing flood warnings and watches issued across the province, May 2, 2019
(click to enlarge).

Affected areas in New Brunswick are concentrated along the Upper St. John River in the north of the province, and also the Lower St. John River in the south, including Fredericton and Moncton. In Ontario, affected regions include much of the eastern part of the province, especially the Ottawa Valley along the Ottawa River. Quebec has been hit the hardest, with the most affected regions being the Laurentians and the Outaouais. Other affected regions include the Quebec City area, Centre-du-Québec, Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Lanaudière, Laval, Mauricie, the Montérégie and Montreal. In the Laurentians, the number of people affected jumped due to the rupture of a dike in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, which flooded one-third of the municipality. Many emergency measures are being taken by various public services in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick to alleviate the situation and assist the victims.

Tremendous social solidarity is being expressed by the people of these areas and from elsewhere in Canada to help the affected populations and to limit the scope of the floods as much as possible. This inestimable solidarity in this urgent situation shows the character and sentiment of the people to unite and take care of the well-being of all, demonstrating how the people unite to face adversity.

Water levels are now starting to recede in all three affected provinces, however the process of recovery will be arduous, and the situation made more difficult by cynical calculations of governments, and politicians who approach these disasters in a self-serving manner. For example, Quebec Premier François Legault used the tragedy in people's lives to say that asking taxpayers to foot the bill for disaster relief is unacceptable. Once a certain threshold of financial assistance is exceeded, he said, the victims should move and get out of harm's way. He totally ignored the economic circumstances of many of the victims as well as the role unscrupulous land developers often play in building homes in areas which are flood plains. It is known that some people have not even overcome the effects of previous floods. Not only must everyone receive the help necessary but measures must also be put in place to protect the shoreline municipalities as much as possible so that they can maintain themselves.

The social solidarity, measures to protect the low-lying communities near rivers and lakes from the effects of climate change, disaster relief efforts and the fight against climate change together make up an integral part of modern living that puts the well-being of all in first place.

The Chaudière Bridge, one of five bridges connecting Gatineau to Ottawa, has been closed since 6:00 am on April 28, 2019. The oldest and lowest of the inter-provincial bridges, it will only be reopened once the waters recede enough to assess damage from the high and fast-moving water.

Transport Canada photo of flooding in Pointe Gatineau at the confluence of the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers.

(Photos: J. Masson ,TML.)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 16 - May 4, 2019

Article Link:
Human-Centred Solutions Demanded for Spring Flooding: Devastating Floods in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick


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