Towns evacuated as heavy rains pelt Eastern Canada

CoCoRaHS’s map of precipitation over southern Ontario and Quebec for May 5, 2017. (Cocorahs.org)

Toronto/Ottawa | Reuters — Torrential rains lashed parts of central and Eastern Canada on Friday, causing flooding, flight delays and traffic disruptions, and the prime minister said the federal government was ready to provide help if necessary.

The provinces of Ontario and Quebec have been dealing with the fallout of heavy spring rainfall this week, and local authorities advised the residents of some communities to evacuate their homes.

Televised images showed residents filling sandbags across communities in Quebec, while people were evacuated by boat or canoe. In Toronto, which sits on the north shore of Lake Ontario, city workers have been trying to shore up beaches and the city’s harbour islands.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in regular contact with provincial authorities.

“We stand ready and willing to give whatever help the federal government can to help them through this situation, and we will of course be there as the clean up continues after the waters recede,” Trudeau said at an event in Montreal.

Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, was forecast to receive 20-30 mm of rain on Friday, with more over the weekend, according to Environment Canada, which issued a rainfall warning.

Toronto authorities warned that persisting rain may close the Don Valley Parkway, a key municipal expressway, by Friday afternoon, potentially snarling traffic for those commuting home.

About 200 outbound and inbound flights at the city’s Pearson International Airport, the country’s biggest, were canceled as of midday, according to the airport website.

In Ottawa, 15-25 mm of rain were expected. A state of emergency was declared in the town of Clarence-Rockland, east of Ottawa, and CBC televised images of flooded roads and people trying to make their way by canoe.

About 124 cities and towns in the province of Quebec were affected by flooding that inundated 1,326 residences, according to Urgences Quebec. As of early Friday, 309 roads were affected by the rising water and 700 homes evacuated, the agency said.

Among the hardest-hit regions was Gatineau, across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, and Montreal, whose many islands and bridges were at risk. In Gatineau, 148 homes were evacuated, according to the city.

Further east, in New Brunswick, provincial officials on Friday advised residents to prepare their properties for heavy rainfall over the next few days.

Those living near the St. John River and its tributaries “should remain on alert, as water levels are near or above flood stage in many regions,” the province said.

New Brunswick also advised residents in the province’s southwest to prepare against the risk of power outages due to rainfall and winds.

At least 50 mm of rain are forecast for most of southern New Brunswick by Saturday evening, the province said, noting those levels could approach 100 mm over southwestern regions. Rains in the province are expected to ease Sunday morning.

Reporting for Reuters by Denny Thomas in Toronto and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa, with AGCanada.com Network files.

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