Flood worries remain as water levels begin to stabilize

Here's where things stand as of Monday morning.

Warmer temperatures and more rain could spell trouble this week

Heavy equipment helps volunteers deal with rising flood waters in Gatineau, Que. Although river levels appear to be stabilizing, milder temperatures and more rain could change the situation. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Heading into the weekend, many communities in eastern Ontario and western Quebec were worried that they'd be hit by floods similar to those that devastated the region in 2017.

However, the combination of less rain than predicted and cooler temperatures has so far kept river levels reasonably manageable.

Even so, Canadian Forces soldiers were deployed in western Quebec to help protect municipal infrastructure, allowing volunteers to focus on safeguarding homes.

Here's where things stand as of Monday morning.

Latest flood projections

The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and South Nation Conservation said Sunday they were maintaining their joint flooding warning.

They said water levels on the Ottawa River had begun to peak Sunday.

Other regions could be at risk until the end of the week, depending on the amount of rainfall and the rate the snowpack melts.

Areas of concern along the Ottawa River include Clarence-Rockland, Alfred-Plantagenet, Constance Bay, and the stretch of the river from Britannia to Cumberland.

The authorities say people living in flood-prone regions should remain alert, stay away from treacherous areas, and inform their children of the risks.

The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board, meanwhile, said Sunday afternoon that "significant spring runoff" will continue this week, keeping the river "above minor flood levels in most locations."

Both Ottawa and Gatineau have resources available to people who need assistance or sandbags for their properties.

Residents build a temporary bridge as water levels rise in Cumberland. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)

Volunteers still needed

Ottawa is requesting volunteers in three locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday:

  • Cumberland Heritage Village Museum at 2940 Old Montreal Rd., where a shuttle will be provided.
  • Constance and Buckham's Bay Community Centre at 262 Len Prucell Drive.
  • Ron Kolbus Centre at 102 Greenview Drive in the upper parking lot.

Volunteers are asked to wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes. They are also asked to bring work gloves, water and snacks — but lunch will be provided.

Rain could return later this week

While rain over the weekend was less than expected, officials are still concerned about rising temperatures and the possibility of more wet weather.

Environment Canada predicts temperatures in the teens for much of the week, with a chance of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The higher temperatures will accelerate the melting of the snowpack and could raise water levels along the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers.

Volunteers fill sandbags in Gatineau, Que., to stave off any potential flooding. The mayor says nearly 1,000 properties are at risk. (Jean Deslisle/CBC)

Homes at risk in Gatineau

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said Sunday that nearly 1,000 properties are at risk for flooding in the region.

A relief centre has been set up for families at the Jean-René-Monette building in the Lac-Beauchamp district, which is available to anyone in need of emergency assistance or shelter.

Many Gatineau streets are now limited to local traffic only.

The city is urging drivers to avoid flooded streets, and is providing road closure updates online.

Soldiers arrived Saturday night and worked to protect municipal infrastructure from flooding. Military officials expect to have 600 soldiers on the ground by Monday morning.

Soldiers arrived in Pontiac, Que., on April 21, 2019, to assist with protecting municipal infrastructure. (CBC)

Pontiac preparing for the worst

Pontiac, Que., Mayor Joanne Labadie says the town has already distributed 60,000 sandbags, more than the total used in May 2017. 

Soldiers arrived Sunday to build a dike around the municipal pumping station, which serves between 500 and 600 people in the region.

"The people who live in these communities who are being hit by one disaster after another ... it has a toll on our citizens," Labadie said.

Volunteers have been filling thousands of sandbags in Cumberland in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the 2017 disaster. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)

Cumberland comes together 

In the rural Ottawa community of Cumberland, residents and volunteers joined forces to protect houses from the rising waters.

Residents like Catherine Roberts were determined to keep the rising river at bay this time.

"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.

City officials said Sunday about 20 homes are at risk.

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


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