Canada – Thousands Evacuated After Rivers Flood in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario

River flooding continues in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, where thousands of people have evacuated their homes. Flooding began around 19 April, 2019, when snowmelt and rain increased river levels. Over 2,000 troops have been deployed to affected areas to help with evacuations and to shore up flood defences. Rivers are expected to peak over the coming days.

Meanwhile in the USA, rising levels of Lake Ontario have prompted state agencies in New York to deploy additional resources to help protect communities along the lake’s shores.

Flooding in New Brunswick, Canada, after snowmelt caused the St John River to overflow, April 2019. Photo: Canadian Army


Thousands of residents are still unable to return to their homes as rivers continue to flood in parts of Quebec. Spring snowmelt and rain caused rivers and lakes to overflow from around 19 April. One fatality was reported in Outaouais Region where a woman died after floods washed out a road.

By 29 April, 2019, around 9,500 people had evacuated their homes, up from 1,200 as of 22 April. Almost 6,500 homes have now been flooded in the province, with a further 3,508 surrounded by water.

Rivers in the province were at major flood stage in at least 11 locations.

Quebec river levels above major flood stage as of 30 April 2019. Image / figures: Government of Quebec


Flooding has also affected parts of Ontario, including Ottawa where Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency for the city in response to flooding along the Ottawa River. Voluntary evacuations orders were issued for residents in the Constance Bay area. Around 600 military personnel have been deployed to the area to shore up flood defences.

In a statement of 25 April, the City of Ottawa said:

“Following the declaration, the City formally requested assistance from the Province of Ontario with management of the emergency operation.

“The City is coordinating an evacuation plan for residents who live where floodwater is posing an imminent threat to safety, life and property. Affected residents will be informed through a visit by City staff, who will provide specific advice, namely to either evacuate or prepare for the possibility of evacuation.”

Ottawa River

Levels of the Ottawa River in Ontario are expected to peak in most areas around 01 to 03 May, 2019. Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board said:

“Flows and levels along the Ottawa River are forecast to exceed those of May 2017 in all areas along the Ottawa River. Areas that were not impacted by the 2017 flooding may also be at risk. Due to increasing flow from reservoirs in the Abitibi-Timiskaming area, levels are expected to rise in the Mattawa region peaking this Thursday or Friday.

“From Pembroke down to Lac Coulonge, runoff from snowmelt and precipitation is slowly decreasing with levels stabilizing close to current conditions.

“Along the lower Ottawa River, water levels are increasing due to arriving significant spring runoff from the west-central part of the basin. Levels are forecast to peak on Tuesday and Wednesday and should remain high and fairly stable thereafter depending on weather conditions. Reservoirs in the northern part of the watershed, which are being used to store runoff and minimize flooding downstream, are rapidly filling.”

New Brunswick

Canadian Armed Forces have also been deployed to parts of New Brunswick Province, including Island View, Federicton, Oromocto, Grand Lake, Gagetown, and Grand Bay, to assist with the flood situation caused by the rising water levels of the Saint John river.

As of 30 April 486 households (1,207 people) have registered with the Red Cross and 155 households (433 people) are being sheltered. New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NBEMO) said that satellite imagery collected by Service New Brunswick on 25 April showed that 16,155 properties had been touched by floodwater, although not all buildings on those properties were affected.

Water levels are expected to start dropping over the next few days but it could be days before they fall below flood stage.

In a statement of 29 April, NBEMO warned that despite the forecast of slowly decreasing water levels in the coming days, residents along the Saint John River should continue to exercise caution. Several roads remain closed and cannot be used until they are cleared and reopened by officials. Drivers should continue to respect barricades.

“We want to recognize all of the volunteers who continued to provide significant support during the weekend,” said Greg MacCallum, director of NBEMO. “The community support we have seen since the start of this difficult event has been outstanding and all volunteers should be commended. I also want to thank the firefighters, police services, municipalities, Red Cross, Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and all other organizations involved for their dedication to affected New Brunswickers.”

Flooding in New Brunswick, Canada, after snowmelt caused the St John River to overflow, April 2019. Photo: Canadian Army
Flooding in New Brunswick, Canada, after snowmelt caused the St John River to overflow, April 2019. Photo: Canadian Army

New York State, USA

Meanwhile in neighbouring New York state, USA, Governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier this week that the state is preparing for a “worst-case scenario” as water levels rise along Lake Ontario.

The governor directed State agencies to deploy additional resources to help protect communities along the shores of Lake Ontario from potential flooding that could result from the lake’s rising water levels. These resources include an additional 30,000 unfilled sandbags, nearly 6,000 filled sandbags, six 6-inch pumps, 1,500 feet of 6-inch hose and more than 100 feet of aquadam directly to the Village of Sodus Point. The Governor also announced 20 members of the New York National Guard have been placed on standby to assist as needed.

“Our concern is the people and properties in the State of New York, and flooding is a real possibility so we are preparing for the worst case scenario,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are deploying additional resources including an aquadam and thousands of sandbags, and we have National Guard personnel on standby. We have to accept that flooding and increased water flow is a new reality, and we need to start building for that new reality instead of just responding to these continued emergencies.”

“Having visited communities impacted by flooding and seeing the destruction firsthand, I know the devastating impact Lake Ontario flooding has had on homeowners and businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “With this additional deployment of resources, we are preparing for potential flooding and are ready to assist residents and communities in a variety of capacities.”

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