Members of the Canadian Armed Forces move sandbags to combat flood waters in Cumberland on Sunday.
Errol McGihon / Postmedia
The mood improved in the village of Cumberland on Sunday after armed forces personnel finally showed up, the sun came out and hundreds of volunteers pitched in to help east-end homes dramatically surrounded by the flooding Ottawa River.On Saturday, Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais was bitterly disappointed that promised army troops never arrived, though they could be seen working in other parts of the city.But, by Sunday, about 100 soldiers from CFB Petawawa had arrived by 8 a.m., immediately lifting spirits.“We had some quick successes, too,” said Col. Jason Adair. “We were able to focus our effort and literally save a couple of houses, and I think that sends a pretty strong message.”Indeed, Blais said in a radio interview that the morale of beleaguered residents had improved“Yesterday was a really tough day,” he said of Saturday, when rain fell, the winds were high and outside help did not materialize.“People were on the razor’s edge. Morale is much higher in the community today with the army there.”The councillor said better flood mapping helped to identify homes that might have escaped the 2017 high waters but are now vulnerable with a crest about 50 centimetres higher expected Wednesday.He said more than 500 volunteers had registered to help on Sunday, making in excess of 12,000 sandbags.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces move sandbags to combat flood waters along Leo Lane in Cumberland on Sunday.
Errol McGihon /
Residents in Cumberland have been dealing with extremely high water for days now and the stress of continuously bailing out water and staying on watch 24/7 is taking its toll.Geneviève Landry, who lives on Leo Lane, began crying Saturday as she surveyed a team of volunteers bringing wheelbarrows across a makeshift bridge to her home on the Ottawa River.“We are hoping for a miracle right now,” she said. “This was our dream home. Now it is our nightmare home. I don’t ever want to have to go through this again. This is a nightmare. It is painful in so many ways.”The 4,000-square-foot home she shares with her husband and their real estate office is surrounded by water and protected by a large aqua dam — a flood-protection dam made of plastic filled with water.On Saturday, volunteers and friends were bringing sandbags across a string of docks that created a bridge over four feet of water between the road and the house.There is already water in the basement and most of the main-floor furniture has been moved upstairs, said Landry. At the front of the house, the wind-whipped Ottawa River was not far below the top of the aqua dam, but Landry said it can be raised and protected further by sandbags.
Geneviève Landry’s home is surrounded by a water dam and only accessible over a rickety bridge.
Elizabeth Payne /
She said she plans to stay, even if the power is cut to the area — something officials were considering on the weekend. There were four voluntary evacuations in Cumberland on the weekend.In nearby Clarence-Rockland, officials said they expected flood waters by Wednesday to cover more areas than in 2017, including in the core of the community where storm sewers are now underwater near a creek. Flood waters were already at 2017 levels on Saturday, said Mayor Guy Desjardins, and high winds were damaging some of the protective walls built from sandbags.At the community’s recreation centre, dozens of volunteers and emergency workers made sandbags Saturday afternoon in the gusty rain.As of Friday, 165,000 sandbags had been delivered to affected areas, some by boat, and more are being made.With files from Elizabeth Payne ALSO IN THE NEWS:Stay or go? Factors to consider in a flood-prone homeNew areas under threat as Ottawa River floodwaters to exceed record levels of 2017 Gatineau issues plea to motorists: Stay off the roads