The risk of another landslide in the Saguenay forces more than 100 residents to leave their homes

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Less than a week after a landslide destroyed a home in Saguenay, Quebec, a neighborhood has again been evacuated as the threat of another, possibly larger, landslide may be imminent.

Some 101 residents of 53 residences in the La Baie sector of the city of Saguenay, in northeastern Quebec, were forced to leave on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

On Monday, 79 people were forced out of 24 homes after a landslide occurred that evening on 8th Avenue. No one was hurt.

It is unclear if and when the 180 residents will be able to return home, according to city officials.

“The only thing we know is that we are definitely looking at weeks, if not months,” said Dominic Arseneau, spokesman for the city of Saguenay, located about 240 kilometers north of Quebec.

Arseneau explained that an analysis carried out on the area this week revealed the probability of a “very large landslide”.

“Right now it’s definitely not a question of if – it’s a question of when and how big it will be,” he said.

At a press conference late Saturday, the mayor of Saguenay, Julie Dufour, on the left, said that everything would be done to support the victims. (Jonathan Lamothe/Radio Canada)

A state of emergency is expected to be declared in the region in the coming days.

Several families left the area, taking as many things as possible with them. Some went to stay with relatives, while the city redirected those who had no place to go to a shelter at the Jean-Claude Tremblay Sports Center.

Work is underway to build dikes at the bottom of the hill to prevent mud and debris from sliding further in the event of another landslide, Arseneau said.

Steeve Julien, assistant director of the Saguenay fire department, said the results of this assessment were so severe that they resembled conditions seen in 1971, when a major landslide killed 31 people in the former municipality. from Saint-Jean-Vianney, just 35 kilometers away.

Landslides are among the deadliest natural disasters in Quebec.

A major landslide in the former municipality of Saint-Jean-Vianney, less than 40 kilometers from La Baie, killed 31 people in 1971. (Radio-Canada)

Saguenay Mayor Julie Dufour said that while the evacuations caused distress, “we were able to avert a catastrophe.”

“The good news is that everyone is alive,” she told a news conference on Sunday.

Long evacuation

City officials will meet with officials from the provincial Department of Public Safety on Monday afternoon to discuss next steps, as well as assistance programs residents can access.

“We are doing everything we can to help relocate these people, to give them information. They are our number one priority,” Dufour added. “And I ask everyone to collaborate as soon as possible, to take things calmly.”

Yolande Tremblay, 66, tearfully gathered her things Saturday night, a pie still in the oven, after firefighters knocked on her door and informed her she had to leave.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Tremblay said. “I couldn’t resist telling the firefighters to leave because I won’t be moving.”

Yolande Tremblay says she doesn’t know where she and her partner will stay if they can’t possibly return home. (Radio-Canada)

Tremblay said she would stay with her sister until she found another solution. The Saguenay HLM office says it has freed up 30 apartments, but the city and province are still working to relocate the rest of those in need of housing.

“I’m not attached to my stuff; it’s just not easy to leave so quickly, without knowing where I’m going to live afterwards,” said Tremblay.

For Marie-Lilianne Anger and her husband, the question of where to live if they cannot return to their house is also “a question mark”, she says.

In the meantime, the couple will be visiting their daughter in Ontario. “We really don’t have anyone else here,” she said.

All those affected by the evacuation will be taken care of, assured the local authorities. Saguenay invites those concerned to dial (418) 699-6000 for support.

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