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Canada  

Dam holding, for now

Quebec provincial police say about 75 people living downstream from a hydroelectric dam at risk of failing have been taken to safety as officials expressed confidence the Chute Bell dam would hold up.

Police say today about 60 people were taken out by road while the rest were flown out by helicopter, and police officers were making sure no one else was left behind.

Quebec public security officials issued an alert Thursday afternoon warning residents downstream from the Chute Bell falls along the Rouge River to leave their homes immediately. They had initially said about 250 would be affected.

The evacuated area stretches about 18 kilometres south to the Ottawa River in Quebec's Lower Laurentians region, about 140 kilometres west of Montreal.

An evacuation was ordered as a preventive measure and Hydro-Quebec officials said Friday they were confident the dam, built in 1915, would not break. But the alert is in effect until May 3.

The infrastructure was intended to withstand what officials call a millennial flood — an occurrence expected once in a thousand years.

Francis Labbe, a utility spokesman, said those levels have been reached, and with rain in the forecast in the coming days, the Rouge River could rise.

"Right now everything is stable, it's under control," Labbe said.

"The problem is the rain that we are expecting in the next 24 hours or so, and we know this rain will make the flow of the river rise 30 per cent more than what it is right now."



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