Seasoned plumber Howard Cohen spoke in hurried sentences over the phone on Friday, taking a few minutes out of another busy day filled with panicked calls about flooded basements, overflowing drains and struggling sump pumps.
“It’s been crazy, insane,” said Cohen, co-owner of Mr. Drain, a St-Laurent based business that’s dispatched plumbers and vacuum trucks to Île-Bizard, Laval, Rigaud and other very wet places in recent days. “It’s been 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
From homeowners waking up to water in their basements to warehouses having their loading docks fill up with two metres of water, Cohen said, “everyone is flooding.”
And though this time of the year is always busy, Cohen added, in his 29 years working as a plumber, he can’t remember an April quite as hectic as the last three weeks have been.
According to Environment Canada, April 2017 is on track to becoming the rainiest in Montreal’s history.
“We’ll either break the record or be really close,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Marie-Ève Giguère.
The city has already been soaked with 135 millimetres of rain this month, which is only 30 millimetres shy of a record set in 2005 and already twice as much as the usual average for the month of April.
Montreal has also received more rain in the first four months of 2017 than it has in the first four months of any other year since 1872 (Environment Canada’s earliest documented year), eclipsing a record that had stood since 1936. The record amount is mostly a result of a much milder January and February than usual, Giguère said.
Even with the rain expected to subside this weekend and for most of next week, enough has already fallen to potentially bring along another nuisance come mid-May: an increase in the number of springtime mosquitoes flying around the province.
“All of this rain is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you’re a mosquito or a human,” said Richard Vadeboncoeur, a biologist with GDG Environnement, which helps weather networks compile their annual bug activity forecasts. “If you’re a mosquito, you’ll have a lot more friends.”
Springtime mosquitoes develop in stagnant water around mid-May, and the more rain that falls before then, Vadeboncoeur said, the more swamps and accumulated water there will be in forests and fields. Rivers overflowing the way they have been this week also compounds the problem, creating puddles along riverbanks that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
Areas hit the hardest with rain so far in Quebec are municipalities in the Outaouais region, the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships. Around Montreal, Laval and Île-Bizard were experiencing serious flooding on Friday, as was Rigaud, which declared a state of emergency this week.
The Quebec government announced Friday residents of an additional 53 municipalities across the province are now eligible for financial aid if they experienced flooding between April 5-18. Another 19 municipalities had already been made eligible due to floods from earlier this month.