Gatineau officials 'optimistic' worst of spring flooding is over

Gatineau city officials are 'optimistic' the worst could be over for residents affected by the spring flooding that's washed out local roads and caused people to leave their homes.

More than 3 dozen homes voluntarily evacuated as river waters rose

Water levels reach residents' front yards along Boulevard Hurtubise on Friday, April 21, 2017. On Saturday, the city announced the road had reopened to local traffic. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Gatineau city officials are hopeful the worst could be over for residents affected by spring flooding that's washed out local roads and caused people to leave their homes.

According to the city's latest update Saturday afternoon, water levels on both the Ottawa River and the Gatineau River are either receding or holding steady.

"The water is down. People are a little more relaxed [and] optimistic. The weather is changing," said Sylvie Goneau, councillor for the city's Bellevue district.

The spring thaw, coupled with heavy rains, had caused more than three dozen homes in the city to be voluntarily evacuated — including 23 homes alone on Boulevard Hurtubise in Gatineau's east end.

Those families have now been told they can return home, Goneau said.

Roads opened, safe havens closed

Although Gatineau did not declare a state of emergency, the city is among 10 western Quebec communities eligible to receive emergency financial assistance from the province to help with the spring flooding.

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On Saturday, city officials said Boulevard Hurtubise was reopened to local traffic, and that a special transportation service being offered to residents living on Hurtubise between Rue Campeau and Rue Sabourin would end at 10 p.m.

Firefighters knocked on doors Friday urging residents to voluntarily leave their homes after spring flooding hit Gatineau and the surrounding area. City officials now say the worst may be over. (Florence Ngué-No/Radio-Canada)

The city is also planning to close a centre for displaced residents set up at the Jean-René-Monette Community Centre at 10 p.m., after no one came by Saturday.

People can still pick up sandbags from various distribution sites, the city said. Cyclists are also being urged to stay off pathways that are still underwater.

City officials will now be keeping a "close eye" in the coming days on the forecast, even though it doesn't call for rain again until the middle of next week, Goneau said.

"We do also have to keep an eye on water in the north," said Goneau, referring to the many lakes and rivers that flow south into the local waterways.

"But listen — water going down is always good news."