The Ottawa and Gatineau region recently witnessed record-breaking flooding.The heavy rainfall coupled with snowmelt and increasing soil saturation eventually lead to the worst flooding seen in decades.

But even as the flood submerged hundreds of basements and streets, a sense of community emerged through the crisis as neighbours helped neighbours and volunteers came out to fill sandbags.

As water levels continue receding across most of the Ottawa River, a growing uncertainty looms over affected communities on both sides. From insurance claims and provincial assistance to sewage concerns, residents are now looking for answers.


Ottawa river
Wednesday, April 5, 2017: The beginning 

  • The Rideau Conservation Authority (RVCA) expects heavy rain, combined with melting snow, will cause flooding in some low-lying areas along the Rideau River south of Ottawa.
  • Over 30 millimetres of rain falls the following day, breaking the April 6 record.

Old Ottawa South
Friday, April 7: Overflow

  • After a record-breaking rainfall, water levels along parts of the Rideau River rise a metre above ground level. 
  • Some Ottawa South residents filled sandbags by their properties, while others didn't feel the need to take action.


Ottawa Parliament
Monday, April 17: A wet Easter 

  • Nearly 30 millimetres of rain falls in the Ottawa-Gatineau region over Easter weekend, washing out streets and paths.
  • The City of Gatineau offers sandbags to residents in response to the rising water levels.

Photo 5
Wednesday, April 19: The flooding intensifies

  • Record rainfall and snowmelt cause water levels to continue rising.
  • The RVCA warns of flooding alongside parts of the Ottawa River shoreline.
  • On Thursday, April 20, Quebec announce emergency funding for ten Outaouais municipalities for damages not covered by insurance.
  • The municipality of Saint-André-Avellin, Que., declares a state of emergency.

Photo 6
Friday, April 21: Evacuation 

  • 23 Gatineau homes are evacuated, after firefighters warned that residents there were at risk.
  • The municipality of Pontiac, Que., declares a state of emergency.

Hurtubise Boulevard Gatineau closed flooding evacuation risk April 21, 2017
Saturday, April 22: Feeling hopeful

  • Gatineau officials say they believe "the situation is improving, and water levels are gradually falling or holding steady."
  • Closed roads reopen and the city begins planning the recollection of sandbags.
  • By Monday, April 24, residents in Gatineau, Pontiac, and Saint-André-Avellin, Que., return home and are told that they can expect financial assistance from the province, on a case-by-case basis.

Photo 9
Monday, May 1: Rainfall

  • 55 millimetres of rain fell on the Ottawa-Gatineau region and raise water levels to a 20-year high, and almost two metres above the seasonal norm.
  • On Wednesday, May 3, emergency officials advise residents from some 300 homes to leave immediately as water levels rise two centimetres per hour.
  • More rain is forecast for the upcoming week.
  • By Wednesday, 80 Gatineau residents take refuge in the city's two designated shelters managed by the Red Cross. 

Photo 10
Thursday, May 4: Displaced

  • Some 143 homes in Gatineau are evacuated on a voluntary basis.
  • Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin warns residents to prepare for the worst.
  • Clarence-Rockland, Ont., declares a state of emergency. 


Gatineau flooding May 6, 2017
Friday, May 5: Another day of heavy rain 

  • 40 millimetres of rain fall in the region, while residents worked tirelessly filling sandbags.
  • At a midday news conference, Quebec Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux says his government has requested army support for four Quebec regions.
  • In Ottawa, water levels affect 75 properties, mostly in Constance Bay and Cumberland. However the city holds off on declaring a state of emergency.

Photo 13
Saturday, May 6: Mobilization

  • 16 millimetres of rain fell onto the region, raising the Ottawa River in some areas by 17 centimetres.
  • A section of Highway 50 is closed.
  • 2,000 volunteers show up at the Campeau Arena in Gatineau, filling more than 25,000 sandbags.  
  • 400 soldiers are deployed across Quebec flood zones. Around 8 p.m., a number of military personal arrived in Gatineau.
  • 466 people in Gatineau have left their homes, with many getting assistance from the Red Cross.

Photo 14
Sunday, May 7: Military presence 

  • 80 soldiers and 60 engineers arrive Sunday morning in Gatineau to help police reach inaccessible areas.
  • The Canadian military announce it will triple the number of troops it will deploy across the hardest-hit regions.
  • Three millimetres of rain fall on Sunday.


Wave near Chaudiere Bridge
Monday, May 8: Water levels peak

  • From May 1 to May 8, the Ottawa-Gatineau region received 120 millimetres of rain, almost 100 millimetres more over the same time frame than the previous year.
  • Water levels at the Hull Marina in Gatineau peak at 45.18 metres, or three metres higher than the seasonal norm.
  • Federal and provincial government workers are told to stay home to alleviate traffic congestion for emergency workers to deal with flooding.
  • The Hull and Gatineau hospital cancels elective surgery and endoscopic procedures.
  • In Gatineau, 443 homes are affected and 794 people are displaced. In Ottawa, 310 homes are affected and 75 families are displaced.
  • Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard visits Gatineau to meet with residents, while his counterpart in Ontario Kathleen Wynne visits Ottawa and other affected communities in eastern Ontario. 

Photo 16
Tuesday, May 9: Uncertainty looms

  • Water levels begin dropping one to two centimetres per hour in some areas.
  • Federal buildings remain closed in Gatineau.
  • Gov. Gen. David Johnson, his wife, Sharon, and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin tour flooded residential areas.
  • The City of Gatineau says more than 500 homes are affected, in Gatineau, and nearly 1,000 people are receiving care from the Red Cross.
  • 1,730 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are dispatched. The federal government announces it will assume military costs.
  • Ottawa public health advises affected residents to test their well water.
  • Ontario cottage owners express anger because they don't qualify for the provincial disaster relief funding.
  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson proposes a tax deadline extension for affected residents.


Photo 17
Wednesday, May 10: Seeking answers

  • Federal buildings reopen in Gatineau. 
  • The Ottawa River Regulating Committee say levels are dropping 15 centimetres a day.
  • The City of Ottawa set up four information centres, staffed by city and public health workers, for affected residents.
  • The City of Gatineau begins shifting its focus to cleanup efforts.
  • City officials in Ottawa report 346 properties have been affected. 
  • Ottawa and Gatineau residents voice their frustrations at city-run info gatherings; politicians, municipalities, and the military become subject to criticism.
  • 1,000 Gatineau residents attend a meeting on flood compensation, double the number expected by event organizers.


Gaston and Fern Ethier
Thursday, May 11: Assessing the damage

  • Many affected residents turn to provincial assistance, as few homeowners have added overland flood insurance to their existing policies.
  • In Quebec, only damages to primary residences are eligible for provincial assistance, up to a maximum of $159,208.
  • In Ontario, the province's disaster assistance program is capped at $250,000.

 Ruth McKlusky
Friday, May 12: Relief on its way

  • The province announces communities along the Ottawa River, including Ottawa and Renfrew County, are officially eligible for disaster assistance.
  • The RVCA says water levels below Chaudiere Falls have dropped 30 centimetres over the course of the week, and that any weekend rain will likely not affect local water levels.
  • The City of Ottawa announces garbage in flooded areas will be picked up daily and that baseball diamonds will reopen Monday.

Cumberland-Masson ferry May 13, 2017
Saturday, May 13: Getting around

  • The ferry between Cumberland and Masson-Angers, Que., reopens in a limited capacity.
  • All lanes of Highway 50 in Gatineau reopen.
  • The City of Ottawa urges boaters to stay off the river to prevent damage to sandbags.