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Flooding in Pontiac to peak Saturday, officials say

The slower-than-expected rise of floodwaters in Pontiac, Que., has given families, officials and military personnel more time to prepare for the Ottawa River's eventual crest.

As many as 300 homes in the region may be at risk when water levels rise

Judy Wong stacks sandbags around her cottage in Pontiac, Que., to protect it from flooding. Officials say the floodwaters likely now won't peak until Saturday, giving residents more time to prepare. (Laura Osman/CBC)

The slower-than-expected rise of floodwaters in Pontiac, Que., has given families, officials and military personnel more time to prepare for the Ottawa River's eventual crest.

The community had found itself scrambling due to concerns the water would reach its highest mark this long weekend.

Officials say they're thankful the river now likely won't peak until Saturday, giving them extra time to get ready — but that doesn't mean they're letting down their guard. 

"As of this morning, the state of emergency is still in effect," said Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie at a press conference Monday.

"Water levels continue to rise, and further rain is forecasted later this week."

There are about 200 homes currently at risk in the 20-year floodplain, Labadie said. That number could rise to 300 homes by the time the water levels reach their expected maximum on April 27.

More anxiety

For some in the area, the extra time just means more anxiety. 

Megan Smith has been waking up at 4 a.m. every morning to check how much the water has risen.

"It's hard to sleep at night, because you don't know what you're going to wake up to the next day," she said Monday, while filling sandbags.

Megan Smith and her family fill sandbags in an attempt to hold off water from flooding her property in Pontiac, Que. (Laura Osman/CBC)

Smith said she had to leave her house behind during the 2017 floods, as people rode boats down the street outside her house. 

She's as ready as she can be this time, but it already looks like her house is sitting on an island. 

"We're just preparing for the worst at this point," she said. 

Road conditions a concern

While the risk to property remains near the top of residents' minds, emergency service responders are keeping a closer eye on the roads.

Members of the fire service are patrolling streets to make sure emergency vehicles can still access people's homes.

If the roads become too flooded, residents may be asked to leave for their own safety, said Richard Groulx, director of fire services in Pontiac.

Water has already begun to pool on the private streets along Pontiac's 28 beachfront communities. Poor road conditions also led to the death of a 72-year-old woman last week, when a culvert collapsed due to the flood.

The road on Chemin Dion was overtaken by flood water from the Ottawa River on April 21, 2019. (Laura Osman/CBC)

Military turns attention to homes

Meanwhile, military members who stepped in to help with flood preparations are now turning their attention away from saving public infrastructure to protecting private homes.

Officers spent Sunday building dikes around important municipal facilities like the pump station, which provides potable water to the entire community.

On Monday, they began filling sandbags to deliver to homes along the shore.

The municipality has already provided about 60,000 sandbags to residents to keep the water at bay.

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