Quebec is best known for its spring floods. However, floods also occur in summer, during heavy rains and, for the past few years, in winter during thawing.
What are the Causes?
- Snow melt;
- Thawing that swells rivers;
- Storm surges along the St. Lawrence River;
- Special weather conditions, such as heavy rains.
How to Prepare?
Protect your Belongings
- Move your valuables as well as any items that can be removed from the basement or ground floor to an upper floor.
- Put in a safe place and out of children’s reach chemicals or harmful products, such as insecticides and waste oil.
- Block sewers in the basement to avoid backflow, in the absence of an anti-backflow valve (device that prevents the sewage from an overloaded main sewer line from backing up into the basement).
- Plug the floor drain in the basement to reduce the amount of water that may come up through the drainpipe.
- Use a backup sump pump (an emergency pump) to pump out the water if your backwater valve or primary sump pump are defective or not up to the task of removing all the water from your home. There are three emergency power sources, which are sold at most big-box stores. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of pump and power source you are using.
- Place bags of sand and membranes (PDF, 70 kB) in front of each entrance and opening (doors, garage and coping) if the municipality advises you to do so.
- Remove from your yard all objects that can be easily moved.
- Secure all bulky objects outdoors that could be carried away by the water, posing a threat to others.
- Protect the windows facing the St. Lawrence River with plywood.
Avoid Problems with Electricity and Natural Gas
If water is threatening to flood your home:
- Shut off the power to prevent electrocution or fire hazards.
- Turn off the main gas inlet, keeping in mind that it will need to be turned back on by a specialist.
- Turn off the valves on propane bottles and tanks.
- Turn off the outlet valve of the fuel oil tank, keeping in mind that the integrity of the tank will have to be verified by a specialist before it is turned back on.
What to do in Case of Flooding?
Electricity and natural gas
- Do not shut off the power if water is beginning to flood your home. Do not touch anything! Immediately contact Hydro-Québec at 1 800 790-2424 to have the power shut off at the meter or pole.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using temporary electrical installations or backup heating (for example, camping equipment). Non-electrical backup appliances designed for outdoor use (such as gas barbecues and camping equipment) should never be used indoors because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be serious and even fatal. Immediately leave the room you're in if you smell natural gas or if you notice that the gas equipment is damaged and contact your gas distributor’s emergency services.
- Follow the instructions of a generator if you are using one.
- Consider as safe and fit for consumption water from local waterworks unless the municipal waterworks authorities inform you otherwise. In case of uncertainty (odd taste, smell or colour), call the municipal authorities before using it.
- Consider as unsafe and unfit for consumption water from private wells, even if it seems clear and odourless. Until you know the well water is safe, boil it at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute or drink bottle water.
Consumption of food and drugs
- Make sure that food is safe (in French only) before eating it. Discard any food that shows signs of deterioration.
- Do not use medication that must be kept refrigerated if it has not been properly stored. Take it to the pharmacy.
- Check road conditions before setting out at www.quebec511.info, or by calling 511.
- Avoid walking or driving on flooded roads. Abandon your vehicle if the water level causes the engine to stall, to avoid being swept away.
- Avoid putting back into operation flood-damaged road vehicles, including motorcycles and recreational vehicles (motor homes, camping trailers).
- Inform the authorities of any hazardous situation, such as downed power lines on the road or heavy objects swept away by the current.
- Consult the media in your area to obtain a status report and find out about the procedures to be followed.
- Consult your municipality’s website.
- Consult the government website Urgence Québec, as well as their corresponding social media accounts, to obtain up-to-date information.
When and how to Evacuate Your Home?
If the authorities require it or you believe your safety is in jeopardy, evacuate your home. Inform your family or the municipality of the place you plan to stay temporarily.
When and how to Return to Your home?
If the authorities allow it and your safety is not jeopardized, return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. When you arrive, take pictures to document the damage to your home.
What to do During and After a Disaster?
Consult the During a disaster and After a disaster sections to learn instructions and recommendations to follow into each situation.