Ottawa River continues to rise, breaks 59-year-old record
Soldiers deployed to Pembroke, Ont., as water levels reach 113.68 metres above sea level
Flood-weary residents will be tested again this weekend as water levels rise on the Ottawa River.
Rains that drenched the region on Thursday and Friday are working their way into the river over the course of the weekend, raising the water close to levels they hit last week at the height of the floods.
According to the latest Saturday afternoon numbers, Ottawa River levels near Pembroke, Ont., broke a nearly 60-year-old record, reaching a height of 113.68 metres above sea level — one centimetre higher than the previous record set in 1960.
The rising waters have prompted the government to deploy members of the Canadian Armed Forces to the city. The city declared a state of emergency Thursday.
"We've had flooding in our rental property's basement. Our yard is wrecked," said Darlene Dumas, who was out helping her neighbour protect their property Saturday afternoon.
"[We've had] no sleep, and we're pumping water out three pumps at a time."
Chris Mantha, a supervisor with the City of Pembroke, said more volunteers are needed to help with sandbagging efforts as 26 homes have been impacted by floodwaters. No one has been displaced as yet, he said.
"We've also seen significant damage to our waterfront, our marina, our walkways, public washrooms," Mantha said Saturday afternoon.
Water levels driven by rain
The City of Gatineau reported Saturday morning that water levels in the area rose by an average of eight centimetres in the last 24 hours.
The Ottawa River rose five centimetres in the Aylmer and Britannia areas, and 12 centimetres around Quai des Artistes after Friday's rain.
The City of Ottawa said that water levels continue to rise in Constance Bay, Britannia and Cumberland and are expected to peak Sunday or Monday.
The river is being driven both by the recent rains and reservoirs in the northern stretches of the watershed. Those reservoirs are full and can no longer hold back water, as they did earlier in the spring.
Ottawa remains under a state of emergency, as water levels in Britannia are set to peak Sunday at levels just below the earlier peak this year.
After weeks of rising waters, devastating floods have surged through parts of the Ottawa-Gatineau area, forcing hundreds of people from their homes.
Many residents in Pontiac Que., where most of the evacuations took place on April 29, were able to return home last weekend. Several residents remain in limbo after their homes were severely damaged.
Residents in the Ottawa-Gatineau area are being asked to leave their sandbag walls up, and remain alert this weekend.
Farther down the river, from the Hull Marina to Hawkesbury, the levels are expected to peak on Monday.
Soldiers still on duty
Most of the 800 Canadian soldiers who were helping to prepare sandbag walls are no longer on duty, but 150 soldiers are helping in hard-hit areas northwest of Ottawa, including the townships of Laurentian Valley and Whitewater Region.
More than 100 Canadian Armed Forces members were in Pembroke Saturday to protect critical infrastructure, and support residents as floodwaters rise.
"Infrastructure is key because it has the biggest impact on the community," Lt.-Col. Rob Marois said. "If we could get on there right away and prevent those from going down, [then] we're going to have the biggest impact in supporting the different communities."
Lt.-Col.James Stocker said the armed forces are flexible and can bring in more support as needed.
With files from David Thurton