Rising river levels on Christmas Day force hundreds near Quebec City to leave homes

Heavy rainfall and rising water levels have forced more than 200 people north of Quebec City to leave their homes, with helicopters needed in some cases to take isolated residents to safety.

The mayor of Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, a town of about 8,000 people located less than 30 minutes from the provincial capital, declared a 48-hour state of emergency on Friday, as firefighters went door to door to help people leave their homes.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

Rising waters in the Montmorency River have forced evacuations in several areas, including the Île Enchanteresse area, a small island that hadn’t been flooded in years, according to residents.

“This is exceptional for the month of December,” said Steve Boivin, a counselor with the local civil security department.

A local civil security counselor says water levels this high are rare in the month of December. (Radio-Canada)

Civil security agencies had been monitoring Quebec’s rivers in recent days after an intense weather system brought significant amounts of rain to southern parts of the province.

The Red Cross has set up a warming centre in the town, offering food while directing people with no place to go to hotel rooms.

“The city’s priority was the safety of residents, and I can tell you this morning that it’s mission accomplished,” said Carl Thomassin, Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval’s mayor.

Firefighters also evacuated several homes in the area of Beauport, a suburb northeast of Quebec City. About 30 homes are affected.

Rising waters in the Jaune River threatened close to 100 homes in the nearby town of Lac Beauport. So far, only a handful of homes have been evacuated, and the mayor says he’s optimistic the situation won’t get much worse with water levels expected to go down.

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