Residents from eastern Ontario to central New Brunswick are preparing for the possibility of major flooding over the Easter long weekend.
Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said Friday that heavy rains could inundate many areas of the province.
In response to a request from Guilbault, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that he has authorized the Canadian Armed Forces to assist.
Parliamentary Secretary Steven MacKinnon told CTV News that people can expect to see soldiers on the ground in places like Gatineau and Laval.
The Canadian Armed Forces said in a news release that it is deploying “reconnaissance teams” to New Brunswick, after a provincial request for help.
The community of Pontiac, Que., located on the Ottawa River, has received more than 30 millimeters of rain already, prompting a state of emergency.
In nearby Ottawa, volunteers gathered at an arena to fill sandbags. The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board said all flood-prone areas from Lac Coulonge to the Montreal archipelago are at risk.
The ORRPB’s Michael Sarich warned that water levels could reach the same levels as during the 2017 floods, when more than 2,200 homes were affected in Gatineau, including 200 that had to be demolished.
“We haven't had any significant snow melt at this time so there is a lot of concern,” Sarich said.
A City of Ottawa official predicted that the water will peak by Tuesday.
“It changes daily because it’s really dependent on the precipitation we receive and the weather conditions,” said Laila Gibbons, Ottawa’s director of roads and parking.
Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, the mayor of Gatineau, Que., told reporters he is asking residents to “prepare for the worst.”
Jean-Guy Momy isn’t taking any chances. He told CTV Ottawa he had water “right up to the ceiling” of his Gatineau home during the 2017 floods.
“We lost everything in the basement, so now it doesn’t look good,” he said. “It’s not promising.”
In Rigaud, Que., just west of Montreal, Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr., urged residents whose homes are in the flood zone to seek shelter with family and friends.
He said those who refuse to evacuate cannot expect to be rescued.
As of Friday afternoon, only several families had left. Peter den Dikkenboer said that he doesn’t plan to leave, and he doesn’t even plan to use sandbags.
“There was a house down the road here. They had the house surrounded by a four-foot-wall of sandbags. Today that house is gone,” he said. “It didn’t make a difference.”
Some Montrealers are also making preparations. Qazi Ajaz-Ahmed, who lives on Cousineau Street in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, says the 2017 floods caused more than $100,000 damage to his basement.
“We are very, very stressed,” he said. “All the stuff, we put upstairs.”
Areas around the Saint John River in New Brunswick are also expecting serious water. Flood alerts are in place in Fredericton, Saint John, Edmundston, Maugerville, Jemseg and Grand Lake.
New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization director Greg MacCallum said that people living in areas that have flooded in the past should expect “similar to worse conditions.”
Jerry Power of Cambridge-Narrows, N.B., is hoping to prevent damage to his property. He spent Friday sandbagging around his trailer, expecting it would take about 300 just to control the water.
“We’re expecting probably tonight, tomorrow it’s going to really take a jump,” he said.