Constance Bay residents brace for more flooding

Residents in Constance Bay are working hard to try to protect their homes as the Ottawa River is set to rise over the next few days.

Ottawa River set to rise as much as 60 centimetres by weekend

Wendy Srigley's home has become a peninsula jutting into the Ottawa River. She's been working for days to pile sandbags around her house to protect it from rising water levels. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Residents in Constance Bay are working hard to try to protect their homes as the Ottawa River is set to rise dramatically over the next few days.

While Rideau River levels have stabilized, the Ottawa River is expected to increase about half a metre from Constance Bay to east of Cumberland by the weekend, according to South Nation Conservation.

Volunteers and homeowners were filling sandbags Wednesday, piling them up around homes that have become engulfed by an overflowing Ottawa River.

Wendy Srigley has been laying a base of sandbags around her Constance Bay home that is hemmed in on three sides by flood waters.

I think everybody's pretty nervous.- Phil Aldis, Constance Bay resident

She estimates she'll need another 1,000 sandbags by the weekend.

"Really could use more sandbags and resources," she said. "I'm really nervous about being able to get [the wall] up high enough and get it prepared for the rising water that's coming in at the speed that it's coming at."

Although volunteers were helping her Wednesday, she said it's been stressful over the past few days — not just because of rising water levels, but also because she's been worried about whether help was on the way.

"My frustration is, I feel that I might be a priority," she said, but feels as if support didn't materialize as quickly this time as it did in during a similar flood that occurred two years ago.

Evan Johnson speaks with Wendy Srigley whose Constance Bay home is threatened by rising flood waters from the Ottawa River. (Tom Parry/CBC)

Others in Constance Bay are also worried.

"From where the water [was] in the summer, the water's up about eight feet, so it's coming over our retaining wall, which we just replaced after the flood in 2017," said Phil Aldis, a Constance Bay resident who was helping fill sandbags for his neighbours.

Predictions that residents could face a similar situation to two years ago — when flooding began in April, stabilized and then surged weeks later — have put people on edge.

"I think everybody's pretty nervous," said Aldis.

Despite two floods in three years, neither Srigley nor Aldis have plans to move.

"It's the most beautiful place in the world to live as far as I'm concerned," said Aldis.

City partners with disaster assistance groups

Team Rubicon, a group of former military members who assist during natural disasters, as well as Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue, have been enlisted to help residents sandbag their properties, the city wrote in a statement.

Over the past week, more than 1,200 volunteers have helped fill around 190,000 sandbags.

Team Rubicon volunteers have been out helping residents fill sandbags and pile them around their homes.

Evan Johnson is an incident commander with Team Rubicon Canada. He was helping flood victims plan and build sandbag walls around their properties in Constance Bay on Wednesday. (Brian Morris/CBC)

"[Tuesday] night we went from 46 to 96 work order requests in less than 12 hours," said Evan Johnson, an incident commander with the organization.

Volunteers still needed

The city is still asking for help to fill sandbags in Constance Bay, where volunteer hours have been extended, and other areas across the city.

Those interested can volunteer at the following locations:

  • Constance and Buckham's Bay Community Centre,  262 Len Purcell Dr., from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Rd., from 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Ron Kolbus Centre, 102 Greenview Dr., from  3 to 7 p.m.

With files from Tom Parry and Olivia Stefanovich