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When a disastrous flood struck regions of Quebec and eastern Ontario in May 2017, the Canadian Armed Forces were there to help. With the ground already saturated by water from snow melting, a very wet month of April led into a rainy beginning of May. The abundance of precipitation caused waterways to swell to levels not seen in decades. This caused immense disruption to the lives of Canadians living near those waterways.
Once asked by the Government of Quebec, the Canadian Armed Forces deployed service men and women to assist those affected by the flooding. Within an hour of receiving a request for assistance the CAF had liaison officers and reconnaissance elements coordinating with regional centres to determine how to help.
By May 11, the Royal Canadian Air Force had seven aircraft assisting the province: six CH-146 Griffons and one CH-147 Chinook helicopter. The helicopters provide mobility and flexibility to disaster relief teams.
“What we are seeing here has no precedence,” said Capt Jean-Pierre Turcotte in an interview with Julie Marceau broadcast on CBC on May 10, 2017. “I’ve seen the flooding in Manitoba, I’ve seen the ice storm and the flooding in the Saguenay, but a situation like this . . . is incomparable.”
The Canadian Armed Forces are helping civil teams with the following tasks:
- Distributing and filling sandbags to help solidify existing structures and protect critical infrastructure; and
- Using military vehicles to help the civil authorities to maintain traffic on critical arteries and help evacuate citizens to safe areas patrolling to monitor critical infrastructure and safety of citizens reinforcing dikes and walls to protect critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants and bridges.