The waters continue to rise in the Ottawa River as homeowners and thousands of volunteers in Cumberland, Gatineau, Britannia Bay and Constance Bay spent a frantic weekend sandbagging to try to protect homes.Levels are expected to peak on Tuesday just west of Ottawa in Britannia and near Arnprior. To the east, the Ottawa River at Gatineau, Thurso and Hawkesbury/Grenville are expected to peak on Wednesday.
Leo Lane resident Rollande Roberge (L) and volunteer Pat McHugh move sandbags to combat flood waters in Cumberland on April 28, 2019. Errol McGihon/Postmedia
Errol McGihon /
Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin warned of turbulent days ahead and pleaded with motorists to stay off the roads this week.Although travel will be unavoidable for some people, the Gatineau mayor asked that those who can work remotely or change their hours to commute outside of rush-hour do so. For those who must commute and can’t change their hours, he urged them to carpool to limit the number of vehicles on the road.
The Chaudière Bridge has been closed due to high water on the Ottawa River. April 28, 2019. Errol McGihon/Postmedia
Errol McGihon /
Monday was the first weekday commute since the Chaudière Bridge was closed due to rising floodwaters. Public service managers are being asked to give staff who live or work in Gatineau “maximum flexibility” over their work arrangements.The City of Ottawa suggested working from home or taking the bus but otherwise to “expect delays and be patient” during the Monday morning commute.The City of Ottawa is asking residents to stay off the Ottawa river in and around the areas impacted by the recent floods. Boating close to shore may cause wakes which contribute to additional damage to homes, flood barriers and so forth. #ottflood #ottcity— City of Ottawa (@ottawacity) April 28, 2019Besides the Chaudière Bridge, stretches of Highway 50, including the St. Louis on and offramps, and Fournier Boulevard, which was shored up with gravel, are closed as well.Traffic is one way towards Hull on the Alonzo Wright Bridge in the morning and there are widespread road closures in waterfront neighbourhoods.COMPLETE FLOOD COVERAGEMeanwhile, the National Capital Commission reminded motorists Monday morning of construction on the Portage Bridge. The northbound centre lane heading to Gatineau will be closed “occasionally” for construction between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. starting Monday and running through May 10.
A berm on the Ottawa River near Jamieson Street holds back the flooding in the Britannia area as people gathered to build sandbags Sunday, April 28, 2019. Ashley Fraser/Postmedia
Ashley Fraser /
Water levels in the Ottawa River at some locations are still rising. Levels at Britannia, Lac Chats near Arnprior and Maniwaki are expected to peak Tuesday, while Gatineau, Thurso, Grenville/Hawkesbury and Lac Coulonge are expected to hit their highest levels on Wednesday.The water is expected to be higher than the disastrous flood in 2017 at all areas along the Ottawa River, says the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.“Areas that were not impacted by the 2017 flooding may also be at risk.”At Britannia, the water on Monday morning was already 11 centimetres above the 2017 flood level, according to the planning committee.And there’s more rain in the forecast. Periods of rain are to start Monday evening, with drizzle Tuesday and the possibility of as much as 10 to 15 mm of rain falling by Wednesday.It was a weekend of frantic sandbagging as near-record levels on the Ottawa River threatened new neighbourhoods and Canadian Forces personnel fanned out across the city.As many as 3,000 volunteer sandbaggers turned out at centres across the city as a growing stream of residents evacuated their homes in the face of rising floodwaters.There were glimmers of hope on Sunday afternoon as sandbagging efforts paid off in Britannia where a leaking berm had sparked concern a day earlier. Volunteers patrolled the length of the berm through the night and by midday Sunday so many volunteers had turned out to sandbag there was a healthy reserve ready to be deployed as needed to other problem areas.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces move sandbags to combat flood waters in Cumberland on April 28, 2019. Errol McGihon/Postmedia
Errol McGihon /
In Cumberland, military members were on-hand to help fight back the water, working side by side with volunteers building up sandbag walls.“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” was a mantra repeated through the weekend. At a briefing Saturday affected residents were reminded that the water will remain high for weeks, while the cleanup and restoration is sure to be a prolonged affair.In Gatineau, more than 700 people have had to leave their homes. Richard Lafrance, 62, who lives on Rue René, said he’s the last one left in his little area, as others have bolted from the high waters or never rebuilt after demolitions post-2017.Flood warnings have been issued across much of southeast, south-central and northeast Ontario. States of emergency have been declared in the following municipalities:City of Ottawa Town of Huntsville Town of Bracebridge Township of Minden Hills Township of Whitewater Region Township of Horton Township of McNab/Braeside City of Clarence-Rockland Township of Alfred-Plantagenet Township of Laurentian Valley County of Renfrew Township of Greater Madawaska A 34-year-old Arnprior man was also found dead in the water on a flooded road Sunday night. It is unknown if he died due to the flooding.Russell Rouleau, who had been reported missing earlier in the day, was found after Renfrew OPP officers were called to Riverview Drive in Arnprior.A woman in Pontiac, Louise Séguin Lortie, plunged to her death in a creek bed on April 20 near Quyon after her car plunged off a washed out road.ALSO IN THE NEWS:‘Expect delays and be patient’ as flooding closes roads, Chaudière BridgeMissing Arnprior man found dead in flood zone, crime unit investigatingOverdue canoeist found dead on Opinicon Lake