About 80 families evacuated north of Quebec due to risk of landslide – Terrace Standard
Nearly 200 people in Saguenay, Quebec have been forced to leave their homes and belongings as the area faces a high risk of landslides.
Municipal authorities declared a state of emergency on Saturday and asked residents of 53 residences in the borough of La Baie to evacuate before 7 a.m. Sunday.
The order came after 21 households were evacuated in the region north of Quebec earlier this week, following a landslide that swept away an empty house on Monday.
Saguenay Mayor Julie Dufour told reporters on Sunday that families forced to flee could be out of their homes for weeks or even months. She said they would get help from the city to move.
“As mayor, it warms my heart that everyone is alive,” Dufour said. “We were able to avoid a disaster.
Officials said the ground beneath the evacuated area is unstable and it could lead to a massive landslide similar to the Saint-Jean-Vianney disaster.
Hundreds of residents of Saint-Jean-Vianney, also in the Saguenay region, were left homeless in May 1971, after a massive landslide swept through the community, killing 31 people.
“Right now, anything is possible,” Dufour said, warning against scaring residents with such a comparison.
“Will there be houses that cannot stay there? Housing that will remain but with a stabilizing renovation? Others without? It is too early to tell.
The priority is to evacuate as quickly as possible, Saguenay Fire Department Chief Carol Girard said at a news conference on Sunday.
While the risk of a landslide was “imminent”, he said further analysis of the terrain was needed in the coming days to determine if more people needed to be moved.
Andrée Laforest, Quebec’s municipal affairs minister, said at the same news conference that Geneviève Guilbault, the provincial public safety minister, was considering whether the province would also declare a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, 30 housing units have been made available to evacuated residents and support and accommodation services have been set up with the Red Cross, Saguenay and the Ministry of Public Security, Laforest added.
Campsites have offered accommodations, as well as seniors’ residences and other places may be made available in the future, she said.
“It’s a shock, but locals can see we’ve avoided the worst.”
This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press