Environment Canada says much of southern Ontario is in for a good soaking over the coming days — including the City of Belleville, which is already under a state of emergency over concerns local rivers could cause major flooding.

The forecast has conservation authorities in the province's south on flood watch.

Belleville has sent out a call for additional volunteers to help fill sandbags and prepare for an anticipated rise in flood waters over the next several days. 

According to city officials, fifty homes have already been hit, and as many as 200 could be affected, by the time flood waters crest. Authorities declared a state of emergency on Saturday. 


Firefighters and volunteers have been sandbagging residences around Belleville, Ont. as water levels rise on the Moira, Salmon, Napanee and Trent Rivers. (Natalie Kalata/CBC)

Firefighters and volunteers have been sandbagging residences since early Saturday in the city, 175 kilometres east of Toronto, amid severe flooding along the Moira River. The river, swollen by snow melt, burst its banks earlier this week and has been rising 15 centimetres per day. 

"We had a crazy winter so we expected some kind of flooding, but not like this. It's frightening," said resident Lisa Long as volunteers piled sandbags around her home. 

Flood warnings are also in effect for the area's Salmon, Napanee and Trent Rivers. 

 Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis told CBC News the city is looking for volunteers — anyone with “rubber boots and strong arms” — to help with sandbagging. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. 

Similar to 2008

The water levels are nearing those of the flood that hit Belleville in 2008 — said at the time to be the sort that occurs only once every 10 years. 

Ellis, who was also mayor at the time, said the city learned much from 2008, though the latest flood is posing its own challenges. 

"The whole community has been out [volunteering] but everyone's getting tired," he said. 

The city's fire chief on Friday warned residents not to be lulled into a "false sense of security" by the pleasant weather. 

"Our message to residents is we really need to be prepared — it is coming,” Mark MacDonald said in a statement. 

Ottawa, southern Quebec brace for flooding

Environment Canada has ended its weather warnings for Ottawa, Gatineau and areas of eastern Ontario, but residents affected by flooding are still on alert with a thunderstorm in the forecast for Monday.

But the organization admits the total amount of precipitation expected to hit the region is unclear.

In southern Quebec, rains threaten to raise river water levels and the risk of floods even higher.

Up to 45 millimetres of rain could fall in some regions Sunday.

Rain is expected to continue through Tuesday, according to Environment Canada.

With files from CBC's Natalie Kalata, The Canadian Press