Sherbrooke braces for flooding as high winds, rain hammer southwestern Quebec

More than 231,000 people are without power across the province, according to Hydro-Québec

Strong winds and heavy rain have knocked out power to thousands of Quebecers and led to concerns about flooding in parts of the province.

In Sherbrooke, firefighters plan to evacuate 50 homes in the downtown area as water levels in the Saint-François River rose quickly overnight — at one point, the water rose more than a metre in 30 minutes.

"As a preventive measure, we are going evacuate some [homes] so that if the water levels keep rising, we won't be caught off guard," said Stéphane Simoneau, head of the Sherbrooke fire department and coordinator of the city's emergency measures.

More people may eventually be forced out if the water continues to rise, but he said at this point, he doesn't see that happening.

Between 80 and 100 millimetres of rain fell in Sherbrooke Thursday overnight into Friday. The ground was already saturated, so the water quickly drained toward the lower parts of the city, he said.

Residents have called 911 to report mudslides, flooding due to backed up storm drains and downed tree branches. Officials have opened an emergency centre.

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In Cowansville, about 100 kilometres east of Sherbrooke, people living in the Bonnette, Jean-Baptiste, des Vétérans and Saint-Rémi neighbourhoods are being asked to evacuate.

The town has set up a disaster centre at the library, 608 du Sud Street.

A small landslide near Beauceville has closed Highway 173, which connects many towns in the region.

In Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, officials are monitoring water levels in the Chaudière River. The town has issued a warning to residents downtown to prepare for flooding later today.


Fallen tree branches are touching power lines and causing outages across the province — more than 231,000 customers have lost power, most of them in Montreal, the Montérégie, the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships.

Francis Labbé, a Hydro-Québec spokesperson, said the situation is expected to worsen throughout the day due to the weather forecast.

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Environment Canada is warning that wind gusts will reach up to 100 kilometres per hour in the Montreal area, Quebec City and parts of the Eastern Townships on Friday.

In Montreal, the rainfall caused some homes and roads to flood, and the winds felled a number of trees.


Earnscliffe Street and Monkland Avenue was one of the heaviest hit areas by winds blowing trees and branches down. (Debbie Hynes/CBC)

People living in an apartment on Mackenzie Street in Côte-des-Neiges say their building has flooded, damaging their furniture, clothes and electronics.

On the other side of the city, the Hochelega overpass, on Hochelaga Street near Préfontaine Street, is closed to traffic due to what appears to be a sewer backup.


This article was originally published on CBC with files from Radio-Canada's Brigitte Marcoux