Two firefighters are missing and around 1,000 people are stranded after floods in the Charlevoix region of Quebec Province, Canada.
Intense rainfall caused the Rivière du Gouffre to break its banks, flooding roads and damaging bridges. Around 1,000 residents in areas of the Baie Saint-Paul community have been left isolated as a result. Some have been forced to evacuate their homes. Videos on social media showed motorhomes from a nearby campsite being dragged away by the raging river and crashing into a bridge near the town.
The Mayor of Baie Saint-Paul, Michaël Pilote, declared a state of emergency and asked residents to stay home. Accommodation centres have been opened to house those displaced. Schools have been closed in the area.
Quebec Police say teams are searching for 2 firefighters who were reported swept away by the flooding river on 01 May 2023. Two helicopters have been deployed to assist with the search.
Authorities said the Gouffre River was already swollen from spring meltwater but levels jumped from around 49 metres to almost 53 metres following heavy rainfall on 01 May. Flows of the river were measured at 64.72 cubic metres per second early on 01 May to 426.10 metres per second by late 01 May.
Environment Canada said “A low-pressure system brought significant rainfall to the province as well as strong to high winds. Additional amounts are expected locally in the next few days.”
The town of Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs about 30 km north of Baie Saint-Paul recorded 66 mm of rain in a period from 29 April to 01 May. The weather station at Le Massif de Charlevoix recorded 80 mm of rain during the same period.
The heavy rain in the region has increased river levels elsewhere in the province, including in the city of Quebec, where officials are monitoring the rise of the Montmorency River. Flooding has washed out roads in Saint-Côme the Lanaudière region of Quebec, where the municipality has declared a state of emergency.
La rivière se déchaîne entre Baie Saint-Paul et Saint-Urbain pic.twitter.com/sLMjlzSz16
— Félix-Antoine Audet (@Felix_A_Audet) May 1, 2023
— Yves Poirier (@poirieryvesTVA) May 1, 2023