Ottawa

2019 floods: The situation in Constance Bay

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have joined volunteers from across the city in flood-prone Constance Bay, helping residents prepare for the worst as the Ottawa River continues to rise.

Whether you're a resident or volunteer, here's what you need to know

A flooded home in Ottawa's Constance Bay community on April 26, 2019. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have joined volunteers from across the city in flood-prone Constance Bay, helping residents prepare for the worst as the Ottawa River continues to rise.

With rain in the forecast and a snowpack that continues to melt, water levels are expected to increase rapidly over the weekend.

By Monday or Tuesday, flows and levels are expected to exceed those at the height of the May 2017 flood. Just how bad it gets will depend on how much rain or snow falls, according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board (ORRPB).

The Ottawa River could rise 50 centimetres above peak levels seen in 2017.

In Arnprior, just upstream from Constance Bay, the average water level for April is 74.35 metres above sea level. In 2017, it reached a record of 75.95 metres, and this year it's expected to reach 76.40 metres, according to data provided by the ORRPB Friday.

The Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Constance Bay Friday morning. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

The military arrived in Constance Bay just before 9 a.m. Friday, joining residents and volunteers who have been filling sandbags for days.

Among the volunteers sandbagging Friday in Constance Bay are Ottawa MPs Catherine McKenna and Karen McCrimmon, as well as the Ottawa 67's hockey team.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford toured the Constance Bay area Friday morning, and told reporters it "just rips your heart out" to see affected residents face-to-face.

Premier Doug Ford says help from the Canadian Armed Forces gives residents a sense of security. 0:25

Support centre

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.

From Friday to Sunday it's open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 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.

Volunteers and Canadian Armed Forces personnel pitched in to help fill sandbags on Friday. 0:48

Getting sandbags

There are three locations for picking up sandbags close to Constance Bay:

  • The Constance and Buckham's Bay Community Centre at 262 Len Purcell Dr.
  • Greenland Road at Armitage Avenue.
  • The boat launch at MacLarens Landing.

There are also some locations a little farther away:

  • The beach at Moorhead Drive just north of Fitzroy Provincial Park.
  • 320 Mississippi Dr. off the Mississippi River.
  • 274 Morris Island Dr. in Arnprior.
  • 4127 John Shaw Rd. in Kinburn.

You can request help with sandbags, and eventually with cleanup, on the city's website.

Head coach André Tourigny says players were excited about pitching in to help prepare for floods in Ottawa. 0:34

Volunteering

If you want to help people protect their homes, including filling sandbags, go to the Royal Canadian Legion at 377 Albirch Rd.

It's open 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. from Friday until Sunday.

Bring appropriate clothing, footwear, water, snacks and sunscreen. You'll get lunch.

You'll have to register, including signing a waiver, and you must be at least 12 years old.

If you're under 18, you'll have to be with a parent or guardian.

Road closure

  • Len Purcell Drive is closed eastbound from Whistler Road to Fireside Drive.
Pete Davies rebuilt his home in Constance Bay to flood-plain standards after the flood in 2017, and now it's threatened again. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Pete Davies, who has lived on the bay for 20 years, said he rebuilt his home last summer to flood-plain standards after the devastating flooding in 2017.

"We just finished rebuilding, and everything's to standard, and now ... with all the numbers coming in, we might not be fine," he said.

"We just went through it in 2017, and we thought we'd never see it again. A 100-year flood [twice] in two years, it's not nice.... This is my home, and that's why we rebuilt to the standards it is."

Constance Bay resident Paul Graveline experienced flooding in 2017 and again this year. (Radio-Canada)

Paul Graveline, whose family has lived on the bay for more than 20 years, said the water isn't far from the peak reached at his house in 2017. Graveline said he'll need sandbags to keep it at that level and prevent extensive damage.

He hadn't started sandbagging beforehand because until late Thursday, water levels were expected to stay below those reached in 2017, he said.

Graveline also said he wants to have the house lifted up next year, and is hoping for financial assistance to do it.

"We can't live with — and nor can the province of Ontario and the citizens of Ontario — live with paying us every time this happens," he said.

"I think if we can get a one-time fix here, bring the place up substantially ... then we're fine for the future."

A flooded home in Constance Bay. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)
Another flooded home in Constance Bay. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

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