Belleville, Ont., remained in a state of emergency Monday as the Moira River continued to rise and overflow, forcing families to flee their homes.
"It could go up another foot. If that's the case, probably look at 50 homes to be evacuated and 150 more that shouldn't drink their water," Mayor Neil Ellis said Tuesday.
This is the first time in 25 years that the river has breached its banks, Ellis said, blaming the situation on unusually large amounts of snow melt feeding the three rivers that flow into the Moira.
Terry Murphy, general manager of Quinte Conservation, the Belleville-area conservation authority, said about 60 homes in Belleville, north of Highway 401, are affected by flooding. Of those, about a dozen families have been forced from their homes, but many families have also left voluntarily, Murphy said.
Another 60 to 90 homes in the Tweed, about 30 kilometres to the north, face rising waters as well.
"A lot of people up there have evacuated their houses also," Murphy said.
Officials predict the rushing waters won't reach their peak flows until Wednesday, but the river is not rising as fast as it had been earlier.
The city has closed roads in the areas with the worst flooding:
- Harmony Road from Highway 37 to Ashley Street.
- Ashley Street from Highway 62 to Foxboro-Stirling Road.
- River Road from Pumpton Road to the north limit of River Road.
Residents in flooded areas have been urged not to drink water from nearby wells, which may be contaminated.
Local businesses and chain stores have donated water and pumps to those who need it, Ellis said, and neighbouring communities have been helping also.
Murphy estimated that volunteers would continue filling and placing sandbags around homes until 11 p.m. Monday.
Heather Mallison, who moved a year ago into one of the neighbourhoods that is now flooded, said she had been told the river hadn't flooded since 1982.
"So it came as a shock to everyone," she said. "I think I'm just in awe. I feel like a deer in the headlights.… It's pretty scary."
Flooded Ottawa streets to reopen
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the worst flooding is believed to be over along the Rideau River, which crested over the weekend, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority reported.
A spokesperson said streets near the Rideau River closed because of flooding should be open and relatively dry by mid-week.
Renata Mohr's house on the riverbank has been practically surrounded by water for days, but that hasn't dampened her spirits.
"It's part of the beauty of being on the river," she said. "We're so privileged to live with nature right beside us like this and so when a flood comes, we're pretty prepared and it's not a big deal."
She said sump pumps and sound construction prevented damage to her house.
Some Ottawa parks have been affected by the flooding.
The city has closed Claudette Cain Park in the city's south end after the Rideau River's high water levels caused some rapid soil erosion.
The city is also warning parents to keep children away from overflowing wading pools in:
- Dutchie's Hole.
- Strathcona Park.
- Windsor Park.
- Brantwood Park.
The waters in those pools are deep enough to reach the chest of an adult standing in them, but they can't be drained because of high water levels, the city said.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa River continues to rise, and could crest in two weeks, authorities said. However, the local conservation authority said as long as the peak in Ottawa and the melt upriver don't occur at the same time, residents along the Ottawa River should be safe from floods.
Barbara Sauter, whose row house on Kehoe Street in Britannia Village is separated from the Ottawa River by a low concrete wall, said she isn't worried.
"Actually I never had any water since '72, and I hope it's still the same," she said.
The city has left piles of sand and sandbags at the end of every street in Britannia Village as a precaution.