Major floods cause destruction in Quebec following several days of rain

Saint-Jerome, Que. is experiencing exceptionally high waters as levels reach Quebec’s “major flood” category following several days of rain.

Provincial forecasting suggests water levels will stay high for several days. Meanwhile, two other municipalities declared states of emergency due to flooding on Monday. 

On Tuesday, a handful of flood surveillance stations reported waters higher than normal. 

Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon near Lac Maskinongé and Pointe-Calumet, near Lac des Deux Montagnes saw medium flooding through Tuesday morning.

It was a similar situation in the Saint-Agathe-des-Monts area, in Joliette, near the Dorwin Falls, surrounding Lac Sainte-Rose near Mastigouche, and in the Rivière Petit Saguenay.

Firemen line up by the Bas-du-Nord river as the bridge is closed because of flooded roads, Monday, May 1, 2023 in Baie Saint-Paul, Quebec. In Baie-St-Paul, Que., around 90 kilometres northeast of the provincial capital, the mayor declared a state of emergency due to heavy rains that washed away roads and isolated homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Local authorities also launched a search and rescue mission for two firefighters who were swept into fast-moving currents.

Quebec’s provincial police force said the firefighters were trying to evacuate people from their home in Saint-Urbain, in Quebec’s Charlevoix region, before they were pulled into the water. 

READ MORE: Police searching for 2 firefighters swept away in Quebec river


On Monday, municipalities of Baie-Saint-Paul, in Charlevoix, and Saint-Côme, in Lanaudière, triggered their emergency measures due to high water, saturating roads, pushing down infrastructure, and seriously damaging homes.

By Monday evening, Baie-Saint-Paul Mayor Michaël Pilote said that about 200 people had to be relocated to emergency centers because of flood waters in their homes. By late evening, 1,000 people were still without power in the municipality.

“In many areas of Baie-Saint-Paul, we have sections of road that are completely uprooted. Highway 138, in both directions, is impassable. The bridge that connects Baie-Saint-Paul to Les Éboulements is completely inaccessible,” explained the mayor at a press briefing.

The municipality is asking its citizens to stay home, inviting those who are forced to leave their homes to contact 911.

Several roads in the city were closed due to the flooding and two daycares were also evacuated. Children were transported to an emergency center that was set up in the local arena, where their parents came to pick them up at the end of the day.

“I woke up at 1:30 p.m. in a state of panic,” resident Claudia Fillion told The Canadian Press.

“There are people here who say they haven’t seen this in 50 years,” said another resident, Michel Gobeil. “People who think there is no problem with the environment will be confused.”

“The situation is evolving very quickly, it is minute by minute,” said Mayor Pilote. “I am in communication with different levels of governance, including the Ministry of Public Safety, Municipal Affairs, and Quebec City … we are working with the government.”

Public Security Minister François Bonnardel wrote to social media that he was in contact with affected communities, and that he was following the situation “very closely.” He will be in Baie-Saint-Paul Tuesday.  

— More details to come.

— Published with files from The Canadian Press

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