St Jean sur Richelieu Flooding Again

St Jean sur Richelieu Flood
St Jean sur Richelieu Flood
Driving towards St Jean sur Richelieu in the pouring rain…thinking of the rising flood waters…made me afraid…very very afraid!

When I moved to Quebec many years ago I recall hearing every year about the floods in St Jean sur Richelieu and always wondered what was up with that?! Even though I have moved out of the province I still hear about the annual flood in the area from the CBC and Radio-One and have to say…again…what is up with that place? Why would anyone live so close to a place that is proned to flooding?

I had to drive to Ontario on some business…1400 kilometers from New Brunswick via the T-Can through Riviere du Loup, but that’s another story…and on my way back from the Ottawa Valley to the Eastern Townships I decided to try and avoid the hassles of the Champlain Bridge and go south of the Island of Montreal and looking at my GPS I saw that I was actually fairly close to St. Jean Sur Richelieu so I thought I would drive through and check it out. St Jean sur Richeleus had been in the news because of the major flooding and the Canadian Army being called in and then re-called out and people were biotching about the fact that no-one was helping and the waters were rising and I had to see it for myself!

I wanted to be a first hand witness to the St Jean sur Richelieu flood!

Flooded house in St Jean sur Richelieu
I almost needed an amphibious vehicle to navigate the streets of the flooded town. I stopped long enough to take pictures of flooded house in St Jean sur Richelieu but it freaked me out!

Ok so when you’re going to see a major flood zone and it is pouring rain so fast that the car wipers can’t even keep up then it is a good sign that it is a bad sign to come! I was getting really worried as I approached the town because the rain was rtorrential and I had visions of river banks being swept away and people clinging to orange floating buoys trying to fight the currents. The rain was scary…the roads were slippery…the traffic was horrible. I thought I would avoid the rough and tumble Montreal drivers by passing south of the island of Montreal but it seems that with the poor state of the Champlain Bridge and the Mercier Bridge and the expansion and development in southern Quebec there is no real way around the insane traffic jams…but that is another story…

I had decided to go visit the St Jean sur Richelieu flood to see for myself why these folks were belly-achin about the lack of help during this extended run of flooding and old fashioned bad luck! We’ve known the stress of having the basement start to fill with water and having to get the sump pumps into place out in New Brunswick but with what I had been seeing on CBC I knew that the St Jean sur Richelieu flood was much worse that our typical rain storm…this must be bad…and I must bear witness to it!!

So I maneuvered my slasa 2005 pontiac vibe through the streets towards the flood…my heart was beating in my chest…

As I drove into the new part of town past the WalMarts and Tigre Geants and the deppaneurs it didn’t look too bad…on every corner there were bored, angry looking teenagers so it seemed like business as usal…no armed guards or white gloved emergency workers handing out food…regular traffic and grey light and streetlamps…ok so maybe if I go to the lowlands, along the banks of the flooding champlain river or whatever they call it…

I finally made my way to the flooded areas, down streets with pylons and road blocks and large diesel and electric water pumps and hoses across streets trying to pump tyhe flood waters out of the way and was shocked! The banks of the Richelieu river were overflowing and the homes on the waterfront were up to and beyond their foundations with water. Ouch! I drove the car through deep water in the streets and stopped to take a walk with my rubber boots…there were homes with hoses coming out of their front doors and they had pumps in the basements and the water was pump pump pumping out of the basements…those poor folks!

I gotta say…it looked to me like all the flood victims were right on the banks of the Richelieu river…ummm…I guess this is proof that with rising oceans and shrinking ice and climate change that maybe having a waterfront property that is only 8 feet above sea level isn’t such a great idea!!

St Jean sur Richelieu Quebec Flooding
Trees and homes were swamped with the flooding in St Jean sur Richelieu…seems like it is an annual event!

In many of the front yards I walked past there were pallets, or skids, full of sandbags. I guess the army or whoever was in charge of Emergency Measures distributed sandbags to all residents to put around their homes if the water got too high. A lot of the streets had big piles of sandbags still wrapped in plastic so I’m not sure what was going to happen to them. Is this why they needed the Canadian Army? To clean up the sandbags?

At one point when I was surveying the damage in one neighbourhood I was standing taking pictures beside a large Victorian type of home near the river and suddenly I heard someone running towards me…OMG…I though for a moment I was being mugged by a looter who was taking advantage of the high flood waters to run and rob or break into homes during this critical flood time! I turned quickly to see a blonde in Spandex leggings and a billowing red wind-breaker and white Nike’s jogging around a sandbag pile, hopping over a pump hose leading across a lawn and she ran inside her unlocked screen door in the house I was standing beside.

I guess it was business as usual here…out jogging while the waters rose and receded on the Champlain River in St Jean sur Richelieu…after so many weeks of flooding you must get used to it and still need to burn off the fat.

Note to self: don’t buy waterfront property…

Flooded streets in annual flood in Quebec town of St Jean sur Richelieu
Flooded streets in annual flood in Quebec town of St Jean sur Richelieu

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