Summer flooding hits the Townships

Summer flooding hits the Townships

Evacuation orders in Sherbrooke, Cookshire-Eaton lifted by the end of the day


By Jack Wilson

Local Journalism Initiative


Townshippers across the region experienced rare July flooding as high waters saw homes evacuated and roads closed July 11. In Sherbrooke, 583 Lennoxville and downtown residences were evacuated. In Cookshire-Eaton, officials evacuated about 25 homes. By the end of the day, Sherbrooke’s St. Francis River stabilized at a very high 21 feet and Cookshire-Eaton’s Eaton River receded. Both evacuation orders lifted in time for supper.

“For us, it’s unprecedented,” to see flooding so late in the season, Sherbrooke Mayor Évelyne Beaudin told gathered press in front of an overflowing St. Francis River. “With climate change, what we’re seeing is that everything is less and less predictable.” “It’s quite an exceptional situation,” agreed emergency measures coordinator and fire services director Stéphane Simoneau.

Beaudin encouraged residents to sign up for Sherbrooke’s citizen portal to stay in the loop.

Simoneau said emergency planning relies on models to predict flooding resulting from a given level of precipitation. With flooding surpassing expectations, he suggested Sherbrooke might need to update its models.

Given the amount of rain over the last days, “it isn’t supposed to produce the results that are behind me,” Simoneau said, referring to the flooded parking lot in the background. In the span of about 12 hours, the St. Francis River rose from 8 to 21 feet, he said.  “I don’t have the expertise to attribute this to climate change,” Simoneau said. “I do have expertise and experience telling me that something is changing. [Climate change] is probably it.”

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