Laurentians | Dike breach alert in Chute-Saint-Philippe and Lac-des-Écorces

The Ministry of Public Security launched an “extreme” severity alert late Sunday evening concerning a risk of rupture of the Morier dike, on the edge of the Kiamika reservoir, in the Laurentians. Residents of the Kiamika and Lièvre rivers, in Chute-Saint-Philippe and Lac-des-Écorces, had to leave their homes urgently.

Residents of the area concerned had to be evacuated to the Mont-Laurier sports center and follow the directives of local authorities, notified the ministry through Quebec on alert after 10 p.m. Sunday evening.

The affected sector covers a vast area east of Mont-Laurier, in the Laurentians.


Sector affected by the alert in the Laurentians

This evacuation notice occurred “due to the dangers existing following inspections of the infrastructure of the Kiamika dam, Morier dike,” indicated the municipality of Chute-Saint-Philippe on its Facebook page. Residents living near the Kiamika River must go to the Jacques Lesage Aréna sports center at 801, rue Alix, in Mont-Laurier.

Residents must evacuate immediately and plan not to have access to their residence for five days, the municipality of Lac-des-Écorces also specified in its evacuation plan.

“I was informed of a preventive evacuation in Chute-Saint-Philippe and Lac-des-Écorces in connection with the instability of the Morier dike,” said François Bonnardel, Minister of Public Security, on X. I am monitoring the situation closely with the Civil Security teams. »

The Sûreté du Québec mobilized

On social networks, calls for evacuation and questions from citizens arose in the evening on Sunday. Despite the late hour, the families had to pack their bags and leave the premises.

Agents from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) were mobilized in “nerve locations” in the sector to assist the Ministry of the Environment, Civil Security and the municipalities concerned, confirmed to The Press Catherine Bernard, spokesperson for the SQ.

Police officers went door to door to ensure the evacuation and safety of all residents affected by the “preventive evacuation order,” she underlines.

The SQ will remain on site to establish security perimeters and protect evacuated residences, she adds.

According to the municipal directory, 1,018 residents live in Chute-Saint-Philippe and 3,025 in Lac-des-Écorces. However, not all residents are affected by the evacuation notice.

A “high capacity” dam

The Ministry of the Environment owns the Morier dike, a high-capacity dam located on the edge of the immense Kiamika reservoir and the river of the same name. The dike was built in 1954.

This earth dike with a length of 678 meters and a height of 15.85 meters has a retention capacity of 382,000,000 cubic meters of water, according to the technical sheet of the Ministry of the Environment, Fight against climate change, Wildlife and Parks.

The “level of consequence” of this dike is classified as “very important” by the Ministry.

The last assessment of the dam dates from December 2019. No corrections were required, underlines the technical sheet.

Other dams have failed in Quebec

This is not the first time this year that a dam has failed in Quebec, causing flooding. This was the case in Sainte-Émélie-de-l’Énergie and Chertsey, in Lanaudière, during the spring floods of 2023.

In Baie-Saint-Paul, last May, victims also saw their homes flooded in less than twenty minutes with the rupture of a protective dike in the city center.

In Charlevoix, this fall, a dam on the edge of Lake Monique gave way, recently reported The Press.

The water created a furrow several meters deep and destroyed a forest road. Journalist Charles Lecavalier reported that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of dams across the province. The Ministry of the Environment alone owns 930 government dams, including 391 with high capacity (such as the Morier dike), 263 with low capacity and 276 small dams.

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