Santé Montréal

Floods 2017

Mise à jour : le 19 mai 2017

In this section, you will find the latest information releasedt by Montréal's health and social services network about the spring floods. The information is updated regularly.

Montréal’s Director of Public Health presents findings from the health survey flood victims

Dr. Richard Massé, Montréal’s Director of Public Health, released the highlights of a health survey conducted among victims of the recent floods in Montréal. “Our survey shows that almost 70% of respondents reported having suffered from anxiety, sleep disturbances or concentration problems since the floods,” said Dr. Massé. He would like to remind flood victims that they can still get help from the health services set up following the floods and that Info-Santé 8-1-1 is also a good source.


From 17 to 25 May, nearly 200 households answered a questionnaire administered during door-to-door visits by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal public health teams. The sample is representative of Montréal flood victims as a whole: 20% from Cartierville, 35% from Île Bizard and 45% from Pierrefonds. Moreover, 21% of respondents lived in residences rated code red by Montréal's fire department (cannot return home due to health and safety concerns); 30% received a code yellow rating (can return to their homes but must comply with certain health and safety regulations); 36% were rated code green (safe to return home); and 13% had not been rated at the time public health officials visited them.

Almost 70% of respondents reported mental health problems

The survey revealed that proportionately, flood victims were five times more likely to report fair to poor mental health than Montrealers in general—24% vs. 5%. Close to 7 in 10 people (67%) reported suffering from anxiety, sleep disturbances or concentration problems. This figure climbs to 74% among flood evacuees. “Flood victims’ financial concerns can increase anxiety problems; indeed, the survey showed that 75% of respondents did not have flood insurance. The number is 80% among evacuees,” added Dr. Massé.

Physical health problems affecting 35% of households

Respondents were also proportionately more likely to perceive their health to be fair to poor, compared with Montrealers in general—20% vs. 12%. One in three households (35%) reported developing physical health problems since the floods. Over half of those problems were related to respiratory health, and included symptoms such as cough, irritation or difficulty breathing. “Mould grows quickly after a flood and can cause or aggravate respiratory problems. Therefore, it’s very important to carry out the work needed to avoid being exposed to mould,” said Dr. Massé. This finding is especially worrisome since nearly half of respondents consider they don’t have the physical or financial capacity to proceed with the clean-up.

Support for flood victims

Several programs and services have been put in place to help flood victims:

  • Special financial assistance program for flood victims 1-888-643-AIDE (2433) or
  • Returning home and cleaning up: and
  • Health and psychosocial services: 8-1-1 or

Full survey report

The full health survey report will be available soon. A second data collection will be carried out in a few months to track the health of flood victims and inform our partners of the results so they can adapt the services they offer to the needs of this population.

Prevention Now = A Healthy Future

The Direction régionale de santé publique du CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal serves the entire region of Montréal. Public health works to improve and safeguard population health, including in emergency situations. For more information: or @Santepub_Mtl.

Read the presse release (PDF)

Consult the page FLOODS 2017

Source: Direction régionale de santé publique CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

Floods and health hazards: experts remain mobilized and help flood victims More than a thousand inspections completed


Consult communiqué (PDF)

Les experts demeurent mobilisés pour aider la population des zones sinistrées : plus de mille inspections complétées

The Prevention section of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM) and the Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal (DRSP) continue to provide assistance to flood victims to ensure their safe return home. Louise Desrosiers, head of the prevention section at the SIM, and the director of public health, Dr. Richard Massé, emphasized at a joint press briefing the importance of obeying the instructions of authorities to ensure a safe return home.

Two conditions remain for residents to be allowed to return home. First, the premises must be inspected by specialists. Second, individualized safety instructions must be given to returning residents. Public safety groups support borough and SIM inspectors in their inspection of homes and businesses. They visit daycare centres and health institutions affected by floods to ensure the absence of risks for the health of occupants. These visits are an opportunity to remind residents of important prevention measures.

Inspection report

Over the past few days, the Service de sécurité incendie carried out more than a thousand home inspections to determine if the premises can be reintegrated safely. In cases where repairs are necessary, the preliminary evaluation is followed by a detailed inspection showing the condition of the structure of the damaged homes. Building inspectors and electricians evaluate, free of chare, the extent of the damage, identify the repairs that must be carried out, or issue a notice of non-reintegration.

Detail of inspections completed to date:

  • 60 homes in the red category (reintegration not possible for safety/health reasons)
  • 500 homes in the yellow category (reintegration possible if certain health/safety rules are obeyed)
  • 500 homes in the green category (reintegration authorized)

Residents who are authorized to reintegrate their homes must carry out important inspections as follows:

  • Ensure that heating and electricity systems are working correctly
  • Check the general state of the building
  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check for mould
  • Document damages (take photos and keep a written log)
  • Be sure of food and water quality before consuming

The main health risks associated with the return home after a flood are:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Gastroenteritis due to drinking contaminated water or contact with contaminated objects
  • Skin irritations and infections due to contact with water or soiled objects
  • Respiratory problems due to the presence of mould

Wearing gloves, rubber boots and a mask (N95 indoor type for increased protection against mould particles or spores) are preventive measures. Gloves and N95 masks are made available by the SIM to residents at the shelters, free of charge, when visiting.

To ensure child safety, please make sure that they avoid walking or playing in parks, public places and yards where debris may be found and where the soil is not yet dry. They may injure themselves and may be at risk of infection.

Information for victims

Public sessions are planned where information will be given to disaster victims, especially regarding the Québec government financial assistance program. The next session will take place on Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m., at the Ahuntsic-Cartierville YMCA (11885, boul. Laurentien).The SIM and DRSP will be represented at these sessions.

Disaster victims can get more information and prevention tips by visiting the city’s Sécurité civile Web site or Santé Montréal. City information can also be obtained by calling 311, while questions regarding health will be answered by calling 811.

Sources :

Direction régionale de santé publique CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

Service de sécurité civile de la Ville de Montréal

After the floods: How to choose a professional cleaning company


After the floods: How to choose a professional cleaning company (PDF)

BEFORE hiring a company and starting the work, consider the following:

Is the professional cleaning company registered with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec?

Will the employees be well protected?
They should wear gloves, masks, boots and coveralls. If the employees are not taking care of themselves, the quality of the work may be questionable.

Workers are the only ones who should have access to the zone.

Work zones should be isolated from the rest of the house.
These zones should be well ventilated to make sure the air is vented outside. Mould releases allergens and particles that cause irritation. When the air is vented outside, occupants are less likely to be exposed and the particles don’t get blown into other areas of the house.

Biocides don’t get rid of mould.

Testing the air is not useful and is an unnecessary expense.
After a flood, mould grows in damp places and as a result, there are spores in the air.

For more information about mould, see the Protect Yourself From Mould guide or Pochette d’information 

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé ou Info-Social : 8-1-1 ou Santé Montréal


Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

Protect Yourself From Mould

Protect Yourself From Mould (PDF)

After a flood, it’s important to get rid of mould in your home to protect your health and that of your family.

Mould is a tiny fungus that is everywhere in our environment. It grows indoors and outdoors (except in winter). When it grows, mould releases spores into the air that are small enough to breathe in; this can cause health problems especially for people in the following groups:

  • People with severe allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • People with weak immune systems
  • Young children
  • Older adults

Note: If possible, those people should leave their homes until cleanup is complete.

Health effects

Mould can cause or aggravate:

  • allergic rhinitis – symptoms similar to those of hay fever
  • asthma
  • common respiratory infections: cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc.
  • eye, nose or throat irritation

N.B.In most cases, health problems or symptoms disappear once mould has been removed or the person is no longer exposed to it.

How to recognize mould

Mould is not always visible. Look for signs of mould: musty, earthy or alcohol-like odours; fuzzy green or black stains on walls or ceilings and in cupboards.

After a flood, there can be mould in damp materials, as well as allergens and irritants. As a result, spores are dispersed in the air. For this reason, testing the air is not useful and an unnecessary expense.

Protect yourself while working by wearing

  • Protective clothing: rubber boots and gloves
  • NIOSH-certified N95 protective mask
  • a visor or safety glasses

Note: Wash work clothes every day, separate from other clothing.

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé ou Info-Social : 8-1-1
or consult :


Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

Parks, public spaces and yards located in flood zones

Parks, public spaces and yards located in flood zones (PDF)

  • Do not use parks, public spaces or yards located in flood zones until debris has been removed.

Contact with contaminated water (e.g. containing bacteria and viruses, chemical product residue) can cause allergies (dermatitis) and infections, especially if there is a wound or skin problem.

Follow these precautions to make sure that children can play outside safely.

  • It is recommended not to let kids play in contaminated water or in yards or fields that have been flooded until the ground is dry. Drying out soil and sun will eliminate germs on the surface.
  • However, if children have to walk over flooded ground, they should wear rubber boots and appropriate clothes.
  • To avoid risks of gastroenteritis, basic hygiene measures still apply, such as washing hands often especially before eating.
  • It is also recommended to keep a close eye

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé or Info-Social at 8-1-1

Based on a pamphlet by Direction de santé publique du CISSS de la Montérégie

Source : Regional public health department

Public information sessions and temporary offices

The public safety ministry is holding information sessions on financial assistance for people and businesses affected by the spring floods. Temporary offices have been set up for one-on-one meetings.

For more information

Psychosocial Assistance

As a result of the spring floods, health institutions are providing psychosocial support services (psychological distress, anxiety, stress, etc.) to citizens in flood-stricken areas who need to consult. Psychosocial support is available during the crisis and will be throughout the reconstruction process (weeks and months following the disaster), when there is an acute need (difficulties when returning home, dealing with material losses, etc.).

There are four ways to access the psychosocial support on offer:

Directly at the flood site

Support workers are on site, and work in collaboration with the police and the military. They make contact with people affected by the floods to reassure and support them, especially when the flood victims find it hard to leave their homes.

Help centres for disaster victims

Psychosocial support workers have been deployed to help centres for disaster victims, set up in areas affected by flooding. They work proactively, defusing crisis situations, providing immediate help (comfort, sense of security, etc.), and directing flood victims and their families and friends to the appropriate resources.

In collaboration with municipalities, psychosocial workers also attend information meetings for citizens.

8-1-1 help line

The help line provides quick 24/7 telephone access to help from psychosocial services (information, intervention, referral, professional advice); help will be available for the duration of the disaster as well as during the recovery process.

Regular services

Regular psychosocial support services are also offered at all provincial health institutions.

Psychosocial services include locating people in need, providing crisis interventions (e.g. re-establishing a sense of security and comfort), interventions in the days and weeks following the disaster (e.g. psychosocial information sessions, supporting disaster victims, psychosocial support for professionals on site) and during the recovery process (e.g. support and information).

Consult Urgence Québec

Urgence Québec

Return to your home when authorized to do so


Return to your home when authorized to do so (PDF)

If the return has been authorized and your safety is not in jeopardy, you may return home.

  • General instructions
  • After a prolonged power failure
  • After a flood or storm surge

 General instructions

Return to your home during the day, when it is easier to see problems and hazards. If your home has been damaged, take photos of or film the damage. Notify your insurer, to have the damage recorded. Call the financial institution that granted you a mortgage loan, to declare the damage. Keep the receipts of all your cleaning-related expenses.

If extensive work must be carried out before you can return home, secure the premises to keep away looters and curious bystanders:

  • Barricade the windows.
  • Lock the doors.
  • Cover damaged areas.

For evaluation, cleaning or disinfection services, or repair work following a disaster, choose recognized specialized firms.

To replace cards, permits, licences or certificates issued by government departments and bodies, you may:

Call Services Québec at 418 644-4545 (Québec area), 514 644-4545 (Montréal area), or 1 877 644-4545 toll free.

Go to a Services Québec office where a clerk will assist you.

Consult the Cartes, permis et certificats electronic guide (in French only) on Québec Portal, Citizens section.

After a prolonged power failure

If you return home after a prolonged power failure:

  • Turn on the heating appliances and plug in the electrical devices gradually. Call on a specialist if equipment is damaged. Until service is permanently restored, use backup equipment according to manufacturer instructions and take the necessary precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Sort the food (in French only) that was in the refrigerator and freezer, and throw away any food that shows signs of deterioration.
  • Do not take medication that was in the refrigerator. Return it to the drugstore to be destroyed. ?Call on a master pipe-mechanic (in French only) who has the skills and tools necessary to thaw pipes, if needed.
  • Replace the items you used in your emergency kit. Haut de page

After a flood or storm surge

If you return home after a flood or storm surge:

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Find out if your water is drinkable
  • Disinfect and test your private well
  • Protect yourself against tetanus
  • Clean your home
  • Clean your yard
  • Protect yourself against infections during cleaning work
  • Eliminate mould
  • Observe the following before eating fruits and vegetables from your garden
  • Observe the following when disposing of a dead animal


Source : Urgence-Québec

Drinking water et Flood water


Drinking water et Flood water (PDF)

Drinking water

Drinking water may be contaminated by flood waters and contain bacteria that could make you sick.

If your drinking water comes:

  1. from a municipal water system, follow directions issued by the municipality or authorities before consuming.
  2. from your well, consider the water undrinkable. To drink water, prepare food or brush your teeth:

Flood water

Water that is currently flooding homes may contain bacteria or chemicals and contaminate surfaces and objects, cause infections, skin irritations and gastroenteritis. Follow these instructions when you come into contact with flood water.

• Put on rubber gloves to handle stained objects, and wear boots at all times to avoid contact with water and wet objects, as the risk of infection is great.

• Use a protective mask and safety goggles when cleaning, even if surfaces are dry, as they may still be contaminated.

• Wash your hands frequently, as there may be a risk of contamination.

• Avoid eating in flooded areas.


Source: Direction régional de santé publique

Cleaning your home after a flood


Cleaning your home after a flood (PDF)

Correct Use of Protective Masks


After returning home, if there is visible or possible mould (greenish or blackish stains, smell of mould) or contamination from chemical products such as heating oil, hire a decontamination specialist.

Protective Mask

Flood waters can contain bacteria, microorganisms or chemicals. It is important to avoid contact with contaminated water, which can cause health problems such as skin infections and gastroenteritis.

When cleaning rooms or objects in your home that have been in contact with flood waters, it is recommended to wear rubber boots, protective glasses and an N95 mask.

N95 masks are sold in hardware stores and pharmacies. Look for the “NIOSH N95” logo on the mask. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit the mask to your face.

Avoid surgical masks like those used by dentists and homemade masks, as they do not provide enough protection.

To verify that the mask fits properly:


  1. Place both hands over the mask without flattening it.
  2. Take a deep breath without disturbing the position of the mask. If the mask pulls into your face and no air leaks around it, it fits properly.
  3. If the mask doesn’t fit properly (doesn't pull into your face or air leaks), try again following the steps listed above or choose a different mask size or shape.
  4. The mask must follow the outline of your face, and there must not be any holes or gaps.

When to Throw Out the N95 Mask

  • When air no longer flows through easily
  • When the paper filter gets too wet
  • If a part of the mask or strap breaks
  • Hold the mask by the strap to throw it out

Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

Cleaning Up Outdoors: recommendations for workers, residents and volunteers cleaning up after a flood


Cleaning Up Outdoors: Recommendations for workers, residents and volunteers cleaning up after a flood (PDF)

When cleaning up outdoors, you can come in contact with contaminated water or materials.

Common Health Problems

Contact with water contaminated with germs, fecal matter or other pollutants can cause

  • skin irritations or infections,
  • tetanus, especially if there is a wound or a cut on the skin,
  • gastroenteritis, if contaminated water or objects get in the mouth.

Prevention Measures and Personal Protective Equipment

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Wear clothes that cover the arms and legs, safety boots and rubber work gloves.
  • Keep contaminated water and objects away from skin, eyes and mouth.
  • Wear safety glasses or a visor and a protective mask when there is a risk of splashing.
  • Make sure you are away from the work zone when you drink, eat and put on or take off contact lenses.

Tetanus Vaccination

  • Tetanus is a serious infection. It can develop when a wound comes in contact with contaminated water or objects
  • Many adults are not up to date on their tetanus shots.
  • Adults need a booster shot every 10 years after getting their first vaccine (3 doses during childhood).

Additional Precautions

  • Avoid contact with dead animals or fish; use a shovel to move them.
  • Don’t try to move containers of unidentified chemical products or damaged propane tanks.
  • Don’t go near wild animals.

In Case of Injury

  • Immediately clean all wounds, even minor ones, with soap and clean water.
  • Cover wounds with airtight bandages.
  • Consult a health professional even if you’ve had a tetanus shot. Other preventive treatments or vaccines may be recommended.

To update your vaccinations:

Contact your local CLSC

For serious wound or animal bites that have broken the skin

Call INFO-SANTÉ at 8-1-1 or go to a clinic near you 


Based on a pamphlet by Direction de santé publique du CISSS de la Montérégie

Source : Direction régionale de santé publlique

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