The lessons of the floods in the spring of 2017

Photo: Annik MH de Carufel Le Devoir
A resident of The Île-Bizard taking advantage of a moment of respite before continuing the cleaning of his house, in may of 2017

Lack of inspectors to scrutinize the magnifying glass more than 430 houses flooded, failure of the system calls 311 at the height of the crisis, a long wait to get reinforcements of the armed Forces : the floods of the spring of 2017 in Montreal have highlighted a series of shortcomings, according to a report from the City.


These floods have caused the most significant alert of public safety since the ice storm, 20 years ago, note the document prepared by the Directorate of civil security and the resilience of the City of Montreal. More than 1,100 people have been affected in the greater montréal area during the torrential rains of April and may 2017, which have thwarted all the forecasts.


Dam Carillon on the Ottawa river, the water flow has reached 9000 cubic metres per second, nearly double the threshold of flooding minor established to 5100 cubic metres per second — and much more that the threshold of severe flooding of 6800 cubic metres per second. The standards of flood have been exceeded also on the rivière des Prairies, lake of Two Mountains and lake Saint-Louis.


Room for improvement


“We will be working over the next few months and years to ensure that we best equip the services. The number of phenomena of severe weather will increase and our political decisions will need to reflect this reality “, has indicated the Need to a source at the office of the mayor Valerie Plant.


The report of 55 pages of the civil security of montreal lists a series of measures to be taken to learn the lessons of the floods of last spring.


One of the first challenges is to update the maps of flood prone areas, some of which are based on old and obsolete data of four decades ago. The report also recommends the preparation of maps in digital format that can be updated live.


The report also notes the importance of improving communications. The rescuers have had difficulties to count the number of flooded houses and affected people. At the height of the crisis, in the night of 7 may, the network 311, which allows citizens to join the City or their borough, has been down for nearly four hours. The result : the 911 has been overwhelmed with calls.


Bags, boots, and pants


Consultation with the services provided 2000 emergency responders (police officers, firefighters, blue-collar, white-collar, professional, municipal, etc) has brought to light the long time-to provide reinforcements for the canadian armed Forces, which have provided nearly 300 military personnel.


The coordination of hundreds of stakeholders and volunteers has also given rise to challenges, says the report. All these people had to manage 400 000 sand bags as well as boots and waterproof trousers, which have become essential tools for travel in the affected areas.


This crisis has cost 8,01 million dollars to organize the emergency measures, including the opening of accommodation centres and information, in the agglomeration of Montréal, the report said.


This amount also includes overtime paid to employees, many of whom have suffered from exhaustion. Psychological assistance was provided to disaster victims and to the stakeholders, but several were not able to benefit because of the magnitude of the needs.

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