MONTREAL, May 26 (UPI) -- Public anger mounted in southern Quebec Thursday as Canada's defense minister reiterated soldiers would not help with record flooding clean-up.
Minister Peter MacKay donned hip waders and toured the flooded region south of Montreal Wednesday where the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain have flooded 3,000 homes and displaced at least 1,000 people, CTV News reported.
As many as 800 regular forces and reservists have been helping with sandbagging for the past two weeks, but their number was down to 500 Thursday.
Earlier this week, Public Works Minister Vic Toews told the provincial government soldiers would not compete with the private sector in recovery work.
Residents told various media outlets they were angry the soldiers wouldn't be around to help with sandbag removal and recovery efforts next week.
"We've taken the decision with the mayors and soldiers we will stay for the weekend and take it day to day [after that]," MacKay told reporters.
In the flooded St. Jean-sur-Richelieu region, local officials issued a call for 5,000 volunteers with "sturdy rubber boots" to participate in a debris clean-up June 11-12, The (Montreal) Gazette said.