Constance Bay residents band together to fight 'heartbreaking' flooding

Volunteers packed sandbags Saturday and trucked them out to Constance Bay residents staring down what the local councillor is calling a "heartbreaking" flood situation.

Councillor's own home under water as flooding hits west Ottawa neighbourhood

Volunteers work to prevent Ottawa's Constance Bay neighbourhood from flooding on May 6, 2017. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Volunteers packed sandbags Saturday and trucked them out to Constance Bay residents staring down what the local councillor is calling a "heartbreaking" flood situation.

"It is heartbreaking. Because to see it all blown away, nothing you can do about it — it's just like watching somebody drown, and you can't swim. It is emotional," said Coun. Eli El-Chantiry.

The City of Ottawa said Friday afternoon that about 75 properties had been affected by the heavy rains and rising floodwaters, with the majority of those properties in the west-end neighbourhood along the Ottawa River.

On Bayview Drive, one of the hardest hit streets in Constance Bay, residents waded through waist-deep water Saturday afternoon as fire crews went door to door, checking on people.

A partially-submerged home on Bayview Drive in Ottawa's Constance Bay neighbourhood in Ottawa on May 6, 2017. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
People stand outside a flooded garage on Bayview Drive in Ottawa's Constance Bay neighbourhood on May 6, 2017. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
The flooding in Constance Bay feels like 'watching someone drown and you can't swim,' said Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, who represents the neighbourhood. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

El-Chantiry told CBC News his own home "up the road" was also under more than a metre of water.

"It's so hard to see people's life savings, people's homes [lost]. On the other hand, we're thankful no one got hurt. We managed to get people out that need to be out," said El-Chantiry.

"I'm one of those people, also," he added. "We're no different from the rest of the folks here."

At the nearby community centre, Steve Nason of Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue helped coordinate the relief efforts.

"It says a lot about the community. There's been a ton of people coming out today to help out," Nason said.

"The expectation is we'll probably be here as long as we're needed."

That could be at least all weekend, as Environment Canada is predicting more rain on both Sunday and Monday. The city is currently under a rainfall warning.

Volunteer Steve Nason says his group's prepared to be helping out with the flooding in Constance Bay 'as long as we're needed.' (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
A woman fills sandbags in Ottawa on May 6, 2017. About 75 properties in the city have been affected by recent flooding, including many homes in the Constance Bay neighbourhood. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Volunteers stacked piles of sandbags Saturday afternoon in an attempt to keep the Ottawa River from flooding. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

On Friday, Ottawa recorded 40.4 millimetres of rainfall, breaking the record for May 5 that was set in 1985. If Ottawa gets more than 19.6 millimetres of rain Saturday, the city will also break a 65-year-old daily record set on May 6, 1952. 

Ottawa police have advised people not directly involved in the sandbagging efforts to avoid the Constance Bay area, and were out Saturday diverting non-essential traffic at the intersection of Dunrobin and Constance Bay roads.

The Royal Canadian Legion branch on Allbirch Road in the community is serving as an emergency centre for residents affected by the floods.