As parts of Ottawa and Gatineau remain under water, the Canadian military announced Sunday it is tripling the number of troops that will be deployed across the hardest hit regions of Quebec are flooded.
Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said 1,200 soldiers will be deployed by the end of Sunday, up from the 400 soldiers that were announced a day earlier.
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Between 80 and 100 Canadian military personnel have already been deployed Sunday morning to the Outoauais, including Gatineau, to assist with relief efforts.
Soldiers are also being deployed to Rigaud, Laval, Shawinigan, and other flooded areas throughout eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
Watching the flood water surround his home was overwhelming for Gatineau resident Renaud Arnaud. He had to pack up his things and leave his home with wife and 14-month-old daughter.
'The hardest part is giving up.' - Gatineau resident Renaud Arnaud
"The hardest part is giving up," Arnaud told CBC News outside his home Sunday holding back tears. "Once you give up you just wait for the water to leave."
He said the flooding crisis has taken a significant toll on his wife whose father recently passed away.
"She lost her dad and now her house. It's a lot in one year."
200 homes impacted in Ottawa
The City of Ottawa said it has activated its emergency operations to respond to what it described as a "historic flood," but a state of emergency has not been declared.
In a media release issued Sunday afternoon, the city said it is responding to the crisis and has received sandbags and other assistance from the province.
So far, more than 100,000 sandbags have been used, and 60,000 arrived Sunday.
As of Sunday afternoon, the city said 200 homes have been impacted by flooding and 100 of them have been evacuated. The most affected areas in Ottawa include Britannia, Cumberland, Constance Bay, Dunrobin, Fitzroy Harbour, and MacLarens landing.
Water levels are expected to peak late Sunday or early Monday, the city said.
Three command centres have been set up at the following locations:
- Cumberland: the intersection of Morin Road and Phillip Road
- Constance Bay: 262 Len Purcell Dr.
- Britannia: the intersection of Jamieson Street and Kehoe Street
Quebec's Premier and minister for the Outaouais want public servants to be able to work from home to ease traffic. https://t.co/fWA6Zo4Ija— @CBCOttawa
Ottawa firefighters continue to knock on doors to check on residents and look for potential electrical hazards, the city said.
Soldiers are being tasked with filling sandbags and rescuing families in homes that can't be reached because of the flooding. They departed Sunday morning from their headquarters in Gatineau in armoured vehicles to help families most affected by the flooding, and to survey the damage rising water levels have caused since some streets have transformed into rivers.
Gatineau government buildings closed Monday
The water level has risen so dangerously high that the westbound Highway 50 in Gatineau had to be shut down Saturday evening between de la Gappe Boulevard and Montcalm Street until further notice.
The closure has also prompted the shutdown of the Draveurs Bridge over the Gatineau River.
Motorists are asked to follow the signs for the detour.
On Sunday afternoon, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said that federal government buildings in the city would also be closed Monday to ease traffic congestion.
Workers who used interprovincial bridges were also urged to stay home, Pedneaud-Jobin said.
Authorities are also concerned about the rising water level near the Chaudière Bridge as the current was surging directly underneath it Sunday morning.
Quyon Ferry closed
West of Ottawa, the Quyon Ferry closed late Saturday night.
The ferry transports hundreds of commuters daily across the Ottawa River between Fitzroy Harbour and Quyon, Que.
Owner Don McColgan said flooding on the Quebec side of the crossing made it too dangerous for vehicles to approach the docking area.
Depending on when water levels recede, McColgan said the ferry will hopefully reopen by Wednesday.
Communities rally to help
Approximately 2,000 volunteers helped fill more than 25,000 sandbags Saturday at Campeau Arena in Gatineau.
At one point Saturday, after a flurry of phone calls to the city's 311 service, the City of Gatineau urged people not to call in to inquire about volunteering and to simply head directly to any location to help out.
According to Environment Canada, 117 millimetres of rain has fallen over the region since May 1 and more rain is in the forecast for Sunday. Showers are expected to taper off in the afternoon, followed by a 40 per cent chance of rain for the rest of the day.
There's also a 40 per cent chance of rain for Monday and the city will likely not see the sun come out, at least partially, until Tuesday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story included an unfortunate mistake — a graphic representation of a soldier with a helmet bearing the Nazi SS symbol. We regret our error. The use of the image was accidental. The symbol was small and we did not notice its presence before posting it online. Please be assured that no disrespect towards Canada's military personnel was intended. When we became aware of our error we took immediate steps to correct it.