Montreal (Canada) (AFP) – With heavy rains persisting and waters still rising over much of waterlogged eastern Canada, the nation’s military on Sunday tripled the number of troops urgently working to evacuate thousands of residents.
New evacuations were ordered in Pierrefonds, on the northwestern shore of the Island of Montreal, after three temporary dikes ruptured, quickly sending water levels higher.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre declared a state of emergency for his city, particularly four western neighborhoods. That measure allows the city to order mandatory evacuations from threatened areas.
“The next 48 hours will be decisive,” Coderre told reporters.
A combination of torrential rains and runoff from melting snow has caused rivers to overflow their banks from Ottawa to Montreal, posing critical challenges for people already exhausted by weeks of seemingly unending rainfall.
More than 1,000 people have been evacuated in Quebec province, the largest number coming from Gatineau, near Ottawa, said a statement Sunday from the province’s emergency response unit.
More than 2,000 homes have been flooded in 130 towns and cities, with authorities urging residents to evacuate before it is too late.
The worst is yet to come, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard warned.
“The water will continue rising over the next two or three days,” he said Saturday after visiting the town of Rigaud, west of Montreal, which has been flooded for more than a week.
Water levels continued to rise across much of an area of some 500 kilometers (300 miles), from Toronto and Lake Ontario and stretching downstream along the St. Lawrence River.
The Ministry of Public Safety said waters were expected to crest sometime Monday in Quebec province.
Some 450 troops had been dispatched by Saturday to help put sandbags in place and assist with evacuations.
But that number was set to triple by the end of Sunday, including 500 in the immediate Montreal region, 400 in the area between Gatineau and Rigaud to the west,…