Flood forces Ottawa rowing, sailing clubs to delay events

Rowing and sailing clubs are busy this week cleaning up the damage and debris left by receding floodwaters in the national capital region.

Volunteers are helping with cleanup efforts now that floodwaters have receded

Volunteers with the Ottawa Rowing Club are spending most of the week cleaning up damage and debris left by flood waters. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

Rowing and sailing clubs are busy this week cleaning up the damage and debris left by receding floodwaters in the national capital region.

"It's a memorable year for us," said Melissa McKenzie, executive director of the Ottawa Rowing Club.

"We were established in 1867 by Sir John A. MacDonald so this year is a really special year for us and I guess [the flooding] is a lasting memory."

The club's Tulip Regatta, which coincides with the opening of Ottawa's Tulip Festival, was cancelled this year due to flooding.

McKenzie said the National Capital High School Regatta that takes place on the Ottawa River the last weekend in May was also pushed back to June 10 to give students a proper chance to train.

"Our high school rowers haven't been able to get on the water and get training time in," said McKenzie.

Melissa McKenzie, executive director of the Ottawa Rowing Club, says her club has never experienced flooding like this. (CBC News)

McKenzie said the club's boat houses were flooded, but fast acting volunteers were able to move boats to higher racks and get survival suits, life jackets and motors off the ground before waters got to their highest level.

"Nobody has memory of the water ever coming that high in our boat bays, so this was really the flood of the century. This was completely new for us," she said.

"The water was at least two feet high. It was touching boats that are on lower racks, so that was a concern."

Lost revenue

The club runs numerous rowing programs, which McKenzie said has been impacted by the flooding.

"We are probably two or three weeks behind where we would typically be on the water in the spring," she said.

"So it really effects a lot of our programs."

One of the club's boathouses is also rented for special events but a few had to be canceled.

"We couldn't accommodate them and that's lost revenue for the club," she said.

Members and volunteers are spending four days this week cleaning up so that the club's docks can be installed this coming weekend.

Britannia learned from past

Paul Moore, manager of the Britannia Yacht Club, said his clubhouse was able to avoid severe flooding thanks to a good number of pumps, a flood gate, some 8,000 sandbags and knowledgeable volunteers.

"We had naval people and engineers and that's the fellowship of a club, right? They rally together and the outcry of support and volunteers was phenomenal."

Volunteers helped put up 8000 sandbags around the Britannia Yacht Club. (Supplied)

Moore said the club experienced a major flood in 1979 and in 1981 a floodgate was installed to keep rising waters out during the spring.

As a result, there was only a little damage to the club's lower lounge, carpets and drywall this year.

"We were prepared," he said. "We had sandbags already a week before and we knew it was coming."

The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club and the Club de voile Grande-Rivière in Gatineau said they also experienced a bit of flooding.

However, the damage was minimal and — like the Ottawa Rowing Club and the Britannia Yacht Club — they hope to have things back to normal in the coming days.