2nd flood peak expected this weekend

Just when it seemed flood-weary residents of the Ottawa-Gatineau area might catch a break, the Ottawa River is rising again and isn't expected to peak until Sunday or Monday.

Ottawa River levels could rise 28 centimetres in Britannia by Sunday, 45 centimetres in Gatineau by Monday

Water is pumped onto a street in Ottawa's Britannia neighbourhood on Friday. Water levels are expected to rise again over the next few days along the Ottawa River. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Just when it seemed flood-weary residents of the Ottawa-Gatineau area might catch a break, the Ottawa River is rising again and isn't expected to peak until Sunday or Monday.

After reaching their initial peak more than a week ago, water levels began dropping, then rising again as rain drenched the region and reservoirs filled to the brim.

Another 10 millimetres of rain is expected across the region Friday, and parts of the Outaouais could see even more: a rainfall warning is currently in effect in Maniwaki, Que.

The Ottawa River is currently 1.5 to 2.5 metres above average May levels between Pembroke, Ont., and Thurso, Que.

River levels are now expected to rise another 28 centimetres by Sunday around Britannia, and 45 centimetres by Monday in Gatineau, according to a 5 p.m. Thursday update from the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.

Friday afternoon the National Capital Commission closed the southern end of Jacques-Cartier Park, between the Alexandra and Macdonald-Cartier bridges, for work delayed by the floods.

Mother Nature in charge

"Mother Nature is the one that's dictating [water levels] at this point in time," said Laila Gibbons, director of roads and parking services with the city.

"We've recently seen some information from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority that's warning that we may possibly exceed [last week's peak levels], but again it's really dependant on the temperatures north of us and the precipitation that they'll receive," Gibbons said.

Residents are being asked to leave their sandbag walls up. Anyone concerned about the integrity of their flood defences can contact the city for help, Gibbons said

"We are in a monitoring phase right now and doing maintenance on any of those sandbag walls that may be seeing some distress."

Wind could be also be a an issue, with gusts up to 40 km/h on Friday. That could could cause waves, Gibbons noted.

Canadian Armed Forces members are pulling out of Ottawa, but the City of Ottawa says they can always be asked to return if the flooding situation gets worse. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Army starting to leave

Officials said the Canadian Armed Forces members called in last month began leaving Ottawa Thursday, and were expected to have returned to their bases by Friday.

On Friday afternoon, the city said some troops remain to support local authorities, and where they're sent to will change as the situation evolves.

At the height of the flooding, there were 800 soldiers on the ground in Ottawa.

Gibbons said if the situation gets worse, the city could always ask them to return.

The city is telling volunteers to rest up, too: they likely won't be needed until floodwaters recede again and the cleanup begins — including figuring out what to do with some 1.5 million contaminated sandbags.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski, who represents the riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, announced Friday they're forming a government task force to find ways to make communities more resilient to flooding.


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