Rising water, rising fears

A look at the past two weeks on the Ottawa River, from the earliest flood warnings to the coming peak.

A look at the past 2 weeks on the Ottawa River, from the earliest flood warnings to the coming peak

Jean Lamoureux steers his boat, dubbed the Voisine Express, from his cottage on flooded Voisine Road in Clarence-Rockland, Ont., on April 28. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

For people living along the Ottawa River, the past two weeks have been emotionally draining.

That's when the first signs emerged that more devastating flooding could be on the way.

For many, memories of the 2017 deluge were painfully fresh. Some had just finished rebuilding their homes damaged in that disaster.

Here's our day-by-day rundown of what's happened since the first warnings came.

April 16

The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board (ORRPB), the agency that manages the river's reservoirs, issues its first flood warning.

The agency flags potential flooding in Britannia, Lac Deschenes, Pointe-Gatineau, Cumberland, Rockland and Thurso, adding that water levels could eventually reach heights seen during April 2017 — one month before the worst of that year's devastating floods.

A City of Ottawa crew clears a catch basin to drain a flooded residential street on April 15, 2019. (CBC)

April 17

With heavy rain in the forecast, the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau begin providing sandbags to vulnerable residents.

April 19

The western Quebec municipalities of Pontiac, Val-des-Monts, and Saint-André-Avellin become the first communities to declare states of emergencies.

That same day, a culvert collapses on a rural road in Pontiac, causing the road to be washed out.

Louise Séguin Lortie, who was driving alone on the road, fails to spot the collapsed stretch in time and crashes into the water below.

Louise Séguin Lortie died when her vehicle fell into this crevasse created when a culvert collapsed April 19 in Pontiac, Que. (Jérémie Bergeron/CBC)

The 72-year-old dies in the crash, making her the first — and so far only — confirmed fatality linked to the 2019 floods.

In Ottawa, the city announces periodic closures on Highway 174 in Cumberland for flood preparations.

April 20

The military is dispatched to Gatineau.

About 140 soldiers from CFB Valcartier arrive that evening, the first wave of military personnel to fight the floods.

Rainfall warnings issued earlier in the week for the region are cancelled, with less rain falling than expected.

Cumberland residents build a temporary bridge on April 20 as Ottawa River levels continue to rise. (Olivia Chandler/CBC)

April 21

The ORRPB predicts peak levels on the river will arrive later in the day.

People living in communities hit hard in 2017, including Cumberland and Constance Bay, remain on high alert.

April 22

Gatineau officials confirm approximately 50 homes have been evacuated due to the flood waters.

Quebec Premier François Legault arrives in Gatineau to observe the situation.

Quebec Premier François Legault, centre, shakes hands with a volunteer while Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, left, looks on. Legault said his CAQ government would cap the amount of compensation flood victims receive. (Jean-François Poudrier/Radio-Canada)

Legault says while his Coalition Avenir Québec government would be offering flood victims compensation, they also want to buy out homeowners so that taxpayers aren't on the hook every time a flood occurs.

April 23

Michael Sarich, a senior regulation engineer with the Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat, tells Ottawa Morning the melting snowpack is causing water levels on tributaries upstream near Pembroke, Ont., to rise sharply.

Sarich says levels aren't yet expected to hit those seen during the worst of the flooding in 2017, but they could come close.

Later in the day, South Nation Conservation warns between 15 and 50 millimetres of rain could fall in the ensuing 48 hours.

April 24

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, visit an emergency relief centre in Gatineau, where they speak with flood evacuees.

Evan Johnson speaks with Wendy Srigley, whose Constance Bay home is threatened by rising flood waters from the Ottawa River, on April 24. (Tom Parry/CBC)

April 25

The City of Ottawa declares a state of emergency. Mayor Jim Watson asks for help from the Canadian Armed Forces, saying the city "can no longer do it alone."

An emergency support centre opens in west Ottawa, with two more centres in central and east Ottawa scheduled to open the following day.

Upstream from the nation's capital, Whitewater Region also declares a state of emergency, with both the river and Muskrat Lake flooding.

Further downstream, people living near Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Que., are ordered to leave their homes as swift waters on the Rouge River threaten to destroy the Bell Falls hydroelectric dam. The dam ends up holding.

April 26

Ontario Premier Doug Ford tours flood-ravaged Constance Bay in the morning, saying climate change is among the reasons for the second major flood in two years.

At a news conference, City of Ottawa officials say some homeowners should prepare for voluntary evacuation.

An Ottawa resident works on his pump as waters surround his home on April 26, 2019. The city says people living in certain neighbourhoods could be asked to voluntarily leave their homes in the coming days. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Officials also warn about a potential threat to the Britannia Water Purification Plant, as the only road that lets vehicles access the facility could end up submerged.

In Gatineau, Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin says the flooding could be worse than 2017.

Four more communities declare states of emergency: the Ontario municipalities of Clarence-Rockland, Horton Township and McNab/Braeside and the Quebec municipality of Papineauville.

April 27

The ORRPB forecasts Ottawa River levels to eventually rise half a metre higher than the highest peak in May 2017.

Mike LeMay, the mayor of Pembroke, Ont., says the community's lighthouse on the Ottawa River was destroyed by the rushing water, likely sometime overnight.

The townships of Alfred and Plantagenet and Laurentian Valley declare states of emergency.

Water covers Rue Rene in Gatineau, Que., as flooding from the Ottawa River continues to affect the region on Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

April 28

The river hits record-breaking heights in Ottawa, as well as upstream near Arnprior, Ont., and at Lac Coulonge near Pembroke. The Ottawa and Arnprior records had stood since 1950.

The Chaudière Bridge closes.

The military arrives in Clarence-Rockland.

Military members use a barge as the sandbagging effort continues in Clarence-Rockland, Ont., on April 28, 2019. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Pedneaud-Jobin tells Gatineau residents to work from home if they can to avoid traffic chaos.

Renfrew County declares a state of emergency.

April 29

The province of Quebec closes its offices in Gatineau to help alleviate traffic concerns.

Residents and volunteers continue to shore up the defences along the Ottawa River, keeping a wary eye on water levels that have yet to peak.

Buck Charron wades to his boat in Cumberland on April 29, 2019. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)