Saguenay authorities attempt to relocate landslide evacuees
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Authorities in Saguenay on Tuesday secured a perimeter around a neighborhood at high risk of landslides and are trying to quickly find housing for residents driven from their homes.
City spokesman Dominic Arseneau said private security guards and police will patrol the La Baie neighborhood, and light fixtures will be installed to deter burglars from entering unoccupied residences.
Residents are indeed asked to avoid the area at all costs, because of the risk of new ground movements, he added.
Authorities said Tuesday that 192 residents had been evacuated from 76 residences in this Saguenay neighborhood after a landslide swept away a house on June 13.
The City declared a state of emergency on the weekend and ordered the evacuation of a sector of La Baie.
The evacuation order, Mr. Arseneau said, is expected to remain in effect for several weeks, if not months.
“The experts have said that the ground will move and (…) we are in a race against nature. We need to find a way to stabilize the ground before the next landslide happens, Arseneau said. There will be another landslide if we do nothing. We just don’t know when or how big. »
The Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, wrote Monday evening on Twitter that she had signed the ministerial decree authorizing the City of Saguenay to remain in a state of emergency.
This declaration of a state of emergency, renewable every five days, will allow the City of Saguenay to make decisions more quickly on issues such as the awarding of contracts, the requisition of properties and the diversion of traffic.
The City of Saguenay also launched a website on Tuesday where citizens of the region can offer accommodation to evacuees. People can also use the site to donate appliances and furniture, or services, such as temporarily adopting a disaster victim’s pet. The City has also set up a telephone line for displaced persons.
The Quebec government has already indicated that each person forced to leave their home will receive $20 a day for living expenses. Quebec will also offer up to $260,000 to those unable to return to their homes.
Authorities reported on Monday that 187 residents had been displaced from their residences in the La Baie district. As of Tuesday, around 30 of them were living in hotels. Others have gone to live in their secondary residence, sometimes at their campsite, in accommodation at the municipal housing office or in accommodation with a private owner, said Dominic Arseneau.
The city spokesman said the evacuees had different needs: sometimes they are couples, others live alone, while still others have children. Some also have pets, he recalled. « The goal is to have found adequate housing for everyone by the end of the week, » said Mr. Arseneau.
Prime Minister François Legault announced that he would go to Saguenay on Wednesday. « I will be in La Baie on Wednesday morning to offer my help and support to the population affected by the landslides, » he wrote on Twitter. We won’t let you down. »