A city vehicle drives across an interprovincial bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., Sunday, April 28, 2019. The bridge was closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic due to high waters.
Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS
An army of volunteers has spent more than a week filling sandbags in Gatineau and fortifying homes and city infrastructure against rising water levels.Now Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin says flood preparations have entered a new phase and he is asking motorists to stay off roads to clear the way for first responders, the military and municipal workers responding to rising water levels.“Our first priority is safety: the safety of our residents, the safety of our employees and the safety of our partners,” deputy Gatineau Police chief François Duguay said at a news conference on Sunday afternoon.Water levels are expected to peak Wednesday before plateauing, a level that could last for several weeks, Pednaud-Jobin warned.“We are trying to keep the roads open as long as possible,” Duguay said but warned commuters to expect significant delays Monday morning. The Chaudière Bridge has been closed indefinitely and stretches of Highway 50 and Fournier Boulevard are closed as well.“We have many volunteers filling sandbags and transporting sandbags but we have another task to ask of all residents: If they can change their schedules, carpool or work from home and limit their use of the roads at rush hour, that’s another way to show solidarity and limit the impact,” the mayor said.Quebec public servants are being told to work from home Monday. Asked whether he had asked the federal public service to keep its employees home, Pednaud-Jobin said he had no authority over their workers but welcomed every attempt to keep people off the roads in the days ahead.Residents are being asked to limit calls to 911 to true emergencies. He asked that anyone with general flood-related inquiries to call 311.ALSO IN THE NEWS: Floods: Updates on water levels, road closures and resources in Ottawa and Gatineau‘Water is our enemy right now’: Aylmer residents push back against rising riverOttawa and seven other Ontario municipalities have declared states of emergency: what does that mean?