'A panic situation': Fitzroy Harbour residents pleading for help

About 50 homes in the west Ottawa community of Fitzroy Harbour are already surrounded by water Saturday morning while residents continue working to protect more properties.

Residents, volunteers working to save homes in the west Ottawa community

Water levels continue to rise in Fitzroy Harbour, where more than 50 homes have already been flooded. (Ryan Garland/CBC)

Residents of Fitzroy Harbour are pleading for help as water from the Ottawa River continues its assault on their properties and for many hope is fading. 

Resident Bev Harrison broke down in tears Saturday as she expressed her thanks to the volunteers who have helped build a second wall of sandbags behind her home on Moorhead Drive. The first wall collapsed earlier in the day due to the rising water and waves.

"I am so grateful for the amount of people that have come here and helped. My house would not be behind a wall right now if it weren't for complete strangers that have come here and helped me," Harrison said.

About 50 homes in the west Ottawa community of Fitzroy Harbour are surrounded by water and some residents have decided it's a losing battle.

Nancy Rebertz said her place, like many others in the area, was hit hard by the floods of 2017. They had refinished the floor in their home and were hoping to move on. 

Giving up hope

Now, after working day and night to sandbag around the property she is giving up.

"I text my daughter this morning and that's what I said, 'I'm done, whatever happens I can't control this,'" Rebertz said, adding she is now trying to save what she can from the home.

Volunteers are helping with sandbagging efforts but some residents are asking where the military is and wondering why their community has been left on their own.

"If you see camouflage here, these are local duck hunters wearing their hip waders so we have yet to see any of that allocated to us, it seems to all be right in Constance Bay," Patrick Garbutt said, who is helping coordinate volunteer efforts. 

How to help

Dozens of volunteers were on site Saturday to pitch in and the City of Ottawa was continuing to drop off sand and do wellness checks on residents. 

Sandbags can be picked up on Moorhead Drive, and a little bit further away at 274 Morris Island Dr. and Grandview in the Park (Barry Mullen Park).

The closest of the city's three community support centres is at the Constance and Buckham's Bay Community Centre at 262 Len Purcell Dr.

It's open 24 hours a day, until further notice, and offers 500-millilitre bottles of water, showers, toilets, food from the Salvation Army, outlets for charging devices, Wi-Fi, and access to staff from the Canadian Red Cross, Emergency Social Services for emergency housing and personal support, and Ottawa Public Health.

Tom Jones, who has a cottage in Fitzroy Harbour, said his family has been fortunate compared to some of his neighbours. 

"I'm retired and I'm able to spend all my time here but a lot of my friends can only come after work and you see them working through the night," he said. "It's kind of depressing, actually, particularly for them."

Jason Nash's home was completely surrounded by water Saturday morning, with water seeping into the crawlspace. 

The effort needed to keep the rest of his home dry is exhausting, he said. 

"We're in a bit of a panic situation," Nash said. 

"It's almost at the point where you feel like giving up," he said. "The lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, cold temperatures ... it just feels like we're fighting a losing battle at this point."

Water levels along the Ottawa River are expected to rise about 50 centimetres higher than peak levels seen in May 2017, when flooding devastated many communities in the region. 

Multiple properties in the west Ottawa community of Fitzroy Harbour have been affected by the flooding. (Ryan Garland/CBC)


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