'People are quite nervous': Cumberland residents brace for rising waters

The rural Ottawa community came together Saturday in an attempt to stave off the rising waters of the Ottawa River — and prevent another disaster

Volunteers helped fill and place sandbags to protect homes

Volunteers in Cumberland help protect homes threatened by floods

3 years ago
Duration 0:52
Volunteers in Cumberland help protect homes threatened by floods

Cumberland residents came together Saturday to stave off the rising waters of the Ottawa River — and avoid a repeat of the disastrous flooding that struck the rural Ottawa community two years ago.

Members of the community, which was hard hit by flooding 2017, stacked thousands of sandbags in front of local homes.

"Certainly there's some trepidation. You know, these neighbours were through this two years ago. That was supposed to be a hundred-year storm, and now we're getting it twice in three years," said Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais.

"And so people are quite nervous. But they're very grateful to everyone who's out helping, and hopefully they can mitigate the damage."

Residents build a temporary bridge across Boisé Lane in the rural Ottawa neighbourhood of Cumberland on April 20, 2019, as levels on the Ottawa River continue to rise. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)
Volunteers in Cumberland fill sandbags that will be used to protect properties from the Ottawa River. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)

On Saturday, the Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat warned that the flooding risk was highest for communities downstream from the nation's capital.

In Cumberland — roughly 30 kilometres east of downtown Ottawa — residents like Catherine Roberts were determined to keep the rising river at bay.

'We were not prepared'

"Two years ago, we were not prepared. We didn't get sandbags until the water was in the house," said Roberts, whose home was surrounded Saturday by a wall of more than 2,000 sandbags.

She praised the dozens of volunteers, friends and family members who helped protect her home this time around.

"They worked for hours and hours in pouring rain, and literally all I could do was give them hot chocolate chip cookies. But they were amazing," she said.

"That just blows my mind makes me really want to just cry."

Blais urged residents to collect important documents like passports and birth certificates in case they had to suddenly be evacuated.

Heavy equipment is helping to set up the thousands of sandbags being used to fight the rising flood waters. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)
Sandbags surround the Roberts family home in Cumberland -- which badly flooded back in 2017 -- where volunteers, family, and friends have been working tirelessly to protect properties from the rising flood waters. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)
Glen and Catherine Roberts hope their home isn't devasted like it was back in 2017, and have had the hard work and help friends, family and dozens of volunteers to help protect their home. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)

With files from Olivia Chandler


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