The Ottawa River has been experiencing dangerous high-levels in areas of Cumberland, Gatineau, Britannia Bay, and Constance Bay, where the levels will continue to rise over this week.
This past weekend homeowners and thousands of volunteers, including members of the Canadian Armed Forces, spent the time sandbagging the areas to protect their homes from water damage. Water levels are expected to peak today just west of Ottawa in Britannia and near Arnprior and to the east of Ottawa in Gatineau, Thurso, and Hawkesbury/Grenville on Wednesday. The Ottawa River is at record-breaking levels, where records date back to the 1950s for some of the areas, says the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board. The water is expected to be higher than the damaging flood we had in 2017 at all areas along the Ottawa River, with Britannia recording 11 centimetres above the 2017 flood level as of yesterday. The Hull marina in Gatienau is expected to break a record in the coming days. With more rain in the forecast this week, the water levels will continue to rise up to 50 centimetres in parts of the city, which is why many residents in these areas have already evacuated their homes. Even when the water levels start decreasing, the levels will still remain high for weeks, following with cleanup and restoration, which can take even longer until its back to normal and safe for residents to move back into their homes.
Officials have said that the sandbagging efforts over the weekend have saved nearly 60 homes from flood damage. Although there are safety precautions like sandbagging in place, many residents have evacuated, with more than 700 people in Gatineau who have left their homes. Despite the advisories that areas affected are not safe for many reasons, including, the inability for emergency services to get access to properties if needed in a timely manner, many residents have still chosen to stay in their homes. Crews have already shut down hydro and gas in the more affected areas, such as, West Carleton-March ward and will soon likely in the east Ottawa neighbourhood of Cumberland.
The Chaudière Bridge in Ottawa has been closed since Sunday, April 28th because water has reached the bridge and already caused some damage. There will be commissionaires stationed at both ends of the closure to redirect all vehicles and pedestrians to the Portage Bridge. Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin warns of turbulence on the Portage Bridge over the next few days and asks that those who can work remotely or change their hours to commute outside of rush-hour do so. It is important to limit the amount of vehicles on the surrounding roads at one time and suggests that people car pool as much as possible until the water levels decrease. Public service managers are being asked to give staff who live or work in Gatineau “maximum flexibility” over their work arrangement and The City of Ottawa is reminding us to “expect delays and be patient”.
The northbound centre lane heading to Gatineau on the Portage Bridge will be closed “occasionally” for construction between 9 am and 2:30 pm until May 10th.
Non-emergency boats are also banned from the Ottawa River between the capital and the Carillon dam on the Ontario-Quebec border, if caught breaking this ban there is a fine of up to $5,000.
Other Areas Affected
This unfortunate event isn’t just affecting Ottawa residents, but other areas in much of southeast, south-central, and northeast Ontario, have received states of emergency flood warnings in:
Town of Huntsville
Town of Bracebridge
Township of Minden Hills
Township of Whitewater Region
Township of Horton
Township of McNab/Braeside
City of Clarence-Rockland
Township of Alfred-Plantagenet
Township of Laurentian Valley
County of Renfrew
Township of Greater Madawaska
We truly wish that everyone be safe and please make sure to stay updated on any further warnings whether you live in the affected areas or not. Let us all help our fellow citizens by volunteering in anyway that we can; providing them with additional living space, food, water, electricity, donations, and other safety volunteer efforts.
You are in our thoughts,
The Ritchie Twins