(Baie-Saint-Paul and Montreal) Baie-Saint-Paul was hit by a “perfect cocktail” of heavy rain and snow cover in the mountains, but “the worst would be over,” said the Minister of Public Security François Bonnardel, although more “water storms” are expected in the coming days. In the afternoon, the Leclerc bridge was reopened to traffic: the city is no longer split in two.
“The worst would be over. Now, some weather models tell us between 10 and 35 mm of water for 48 hours. I don’t want to tell you that we are crossing our fingers, but all the teams are in place to secure the network, ”said Mr. Bonnardel at a press briefing at Baie-Saint-Paul City Hall.
Mr. Bonnardel estimates that the approximately 600 people waiting to return to their homes will have to wait another 48 to 72 hours. “It’s normal that these people want to go home, see their house if they have lost belongings or whatever, but you have to secure the network,” he said.
For his part, the mayor of Baie-Saint-Paul, Michaël Pilote, believes that despite the preparation for the weekend, the authorities were “taken a little off guard”.
They pointed out that the accommodation centers are still open and that citizens can come to warm up or sleep there if they need it. Compensation programs are also available.
The day before, the municipalities of Baie-Saint-Paul and Saint-Urbain were hit by a “perfect cocktail” that isolated the first town and split the second in two. The rivers in the area came out of their beds, several culverts gave way, and the very important Route 138, which connects Quebec to the North Shore, was “torn” by the force of the torrent.
“It fell between 20 and 70 mm of water, with still significant snow cover in the Wildlife Reserve. A 40-50mm [water] shot fell in the area. You had a perfect cocktail for a flood some residents hadn’t seen in 50-60 years. This is an unfortunate finding,” Mr. Bonnardel said.
Quebec cities are asking for $2 billion a year for five years to prepare for climate change. For the moment, the Legault government has not acceded to this request.
“We have a clear and precise net observation. Climate change is hitting us, and we must react and invest the substantial sums to secure Quebec,” said the Minister. He pointed out that 70 million has just been made available to secure the banks, but this is an envelope intended for the whole province.
It is too early to quantify the material damage in Charlevoix, said the politician, who went to see the extent of the destruction in town after his press briefing. The Leclerc bridge, which connects the two banks of the Gouffre river to the city center, has been reopened to traffic.
The Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (MTMD) recalled on Tuesday that Route 138 will remain closed in both directions in Baie-Saint-Paul, in the areas of the Mare and Gouffre rivers, for a period of time. still undetermined. A local coordination center was set up as a result.
In total, “at least six bridges” are currently under continuous surveillance in the area, the ministry says. Two inspections also took place on Tuesday morning: first on the Leclerc bridge in Baie-Saint-Paul, on route 362, then on the Saint-Urbain bridge, on route 138, further east.
“The ministry’s priority is to assess, as soon as possible, the damage to the infrastructure and to carry out the work required to reopen the roads”, indicates the MTMD, saying that it is aware “that these closures will have repercussions significant on traffic”
Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault says she asked that “technical teams, hydraulic engineers and structural specialists” be dispatched to the scene on Tuesday morning. A request was also sent to Hydro-Quebec “to obtain a verification of the wires that threaten to fall to the ground,” his office said on Tuesday.
Several detours, displayed on variable message signs, have also been organized. Eastbound, users are invited to use route 175 through the Laurentides wildlife reserve, route 170 or route 172 towards Charlevoix. Westbound, you will have to use route 172 or route 170 from the North Shore, or even route 175 towards Quebec.
Rang Saint-Placide also remains closed to traffic until further notice, a general inspection of a structure must be carried out before reopening. On the water, the activities of the Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive/Île-aux-Coudres ferry however resumed late Monday evening, earlier than expected.
At the end of the afternoon, Tuesday, the authorities specified that the road 349 was also flooded between St-Paulin and St-Alexis-des-Monts, in Mauricie, including the bridge of Allard, which will also have to undergo a inspection. “Depending on the location, there is between 7 and 11 inches of water on the roadway. This is a situation never seen in the sector. Debris along the Allard bridge is not currently affecting water flow. Signs of subsidence in the shoulder were observed,” the ministry said, confirming that the road will be partially closed with alternating traffic.
Camping le Genévrier, an important tourist institution in Baie-Saint-Paul for more than 50 years, has been ravaged by the torrents of water that have been plaguing the municipality since Monday. “It’s 50 years of work by the family to build a business that is a jewel of the Charlevoix region in terms of tourism business with great fame and reputation. To see so much work destroyed in such a short time. There’s no word to describe it, ”says one of the campsite owners, Bruno Labbé, visibly shaken by the situation.
Established in the region for a long time, Mr. Labbé says he has never seen anything like it. “It’s a river that moves a lot when there’s a lot of water, but never like we saw yesterday [Monday] in a few hours,” he said in an interview with La Presse Canadienne.
“The river completely burst its banks and boarded the campground. Much of the land was flooded. With the water flow, there are large parts of the land that have been washed away by the watercourse,” adds Bruno Labbé. Images of trailers from the campsite that were swept away by the torrent have circulated widely in the last hours.
Located five kilometers from Baie-Saint-Paul, the campsite was highly prized by tourists. It offered 400 campsites on nearly a square kilometer of land. “There could be 2,500 to 3,000 people in the summer at full capacity,” says the owner.
But today, Bruno Labbé has a hard time imagining rebuilding his business. “The damage that is apparent is millions of dollars,” he explains. However, he assures that he feels the support of the citizens of the region. “We are aware that the whole community will want to see the Genévrier back in operation,” says Mr. Labbé. The mayor of the municipality, Michaël Pilote, intends to support the company. “We’ll look at how we can help them,” he said.