Flood updates in Ottawa and Gatineau: Bridge and road closures, 20-40 mm of rain expected – Ottawa Citizen

Flood updates in Ottawa and Gatineau: Bridge and road closures, 20-40 mm of rain expected - Ottawa Citizen
Thrill seeker rides jet-ski through Ottawa rapids despite flooding
The waters continue to rise in the Ottawa River and more rain is on the way 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.

In video shared with CTV News Ottawa, a person is seen riding a jet-ski upstream through rapids. The footage was captured by viewer Craig Lutes, who said it was taken near Britannia, an area in the west end of Ottawa.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the already-sodden Ottawa area warning that 20 to 40 mm of rain is expected from early Wednesday morning to early Thursday morning.

The ground has limited ability to absorb further rainfall, the weather agency said of the rain associated with a Texas Low that will track across the southern edge of the province.

Thousands of people across Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick are facing widespread flooding. The City of Ottawa declared a state of emergency last week.

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 / Postmedia

Despite escalating safety warnings around a bloated Ottawa River, some adrenaline seekers wont be stopped.

The City of Ottawa said Monday that its co-ordinating an evacuation plan for residents in areas where floodwaters are an imminent threat to safety, life and property. 

An engineer with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority was brought in over the weekend to inspect a berm in Britannia designed to protect hundreds of homes in the west-end neighbourhood after there were concerns about water flowing through, said Laila Gibbons, Ottawa's director of public safety and environment services. 

Our role is to support the City of Ottawa thats dealing with these floods in three main areas – Constance Bay, Britannia and Cumberland, Chief Charles Bordeleau said before Mondays police board meeting. We have officers deployed to deal with traffic management, to do wellness visits, to make sure people are safe and secure, and were actively involved in ensuring residents feel supported. Ive been out there for the past couple days visiting different sites and Im really proud of the work that everyone is doing.

The river is expected to rise nearly half a metre to its peak by Thursday in Gatineau, Que., where floodwaters have already surrounded homes in several neighbourhoods, according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board's latest update at 5 p.m. ET Monday.

The challenge with this one here is that were going to be looking at a sustained period of time where you are going to see several peaks manifest themselves over the next three weeks. So the residents will need to be prepared for that and the city and the residents need to know this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Around 600 Canadian Armed Forces members are working to deal with rising waters in the Ottawa area. More than a million sandbags have been filled with the help of more than 9,000 volunteers, according to a news conference held by the city Monday afternoon.

Officers dealing with flood-related operations are not available for other police work in the city. Bordeleau said some of that work is happening on a paid-duty basis where the city is hiring those additional officers so that the force can maintain policing elsewhere, but the force is using as much on-duty resources as possible.

The water level in west Ottawa's Britannia neighbourhood, meanwhile, is expected to rise another 27 centimetres, peaking on Wednesday after setting a record high over the weekend. The peak is set to be 41 centimetres higher than 2017 levels.

City staff,  meanwhile, will visit affected residents who will advise them to either leave their homes or get ready for the possibility that theyll have to evacuate.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

New numbers from the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board coupled with Environment Canadas latest forecast signal that water levels will continue to rise over the next few days, the city said.

People can pick up bottled water and hand sanitizer from Ottawa Fire Station 63 at 341 Bayview Dr. between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET or they can use one of three self-service facilities available 24 hours:

– 8,656 volunteers have helped at three sites since Friday with 3,363 volunteers helping on Sunday alone;

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin warned of turbulent days ahead and pleaded with motorists to stay off the roads this week.

With already record-high Ottawa River water levels expected to peak Wednesday or Thursday, people in the National Capital Region are anxiously watching and waiting to see just how bad they will be.

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 City of Gatineau said water levels were at the 100-year flood threshold in Aylmer, Hull and Pointe-Gatineau, with levels in Masson-Angers to the east less than 10 centimetres from that level.

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed. Tony Caldwell / jpg

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.

However, the city is still urging residents who get their drinking water from wells to stop using them if flood waters have covered the top of the well or they suspect contamination.

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

CBC News received special permission from Transport Canada and local officials for the flights. Drones are not allowed within nine kilometres of flooded areas in Quebec.

Besides 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.

One of the five bridges connecting Ottawa and Gatineau — the Chaudière Bridge — is closed to all traffic after the swollen Ottawa River started to rush against it.

Traffic is one way towards Hull on the Alonzo Wright Bridge in the morning and there are widespread road closures in waterfront neighbourhoods.

“We do have the armed forces that are here to assess, plus our volunteer organizations like Team Rubicon, Ottawa volunteer search rescue and some of the other groups,” said Laila Gibbons, manager of parks, buildings and ground services with the city.

QUYON : course contre la monte, les camions se relaient sans cesse afin de solidifier la digue | Race against time. Trucks are coming in out out non stop to solidify the dike @MuniPontiac toutes les résidences du périmètre évacuées #policemrc pic.twitter.com/fvNbabI9aD

In a “race against time” in Pontiac, heavy equipment is shoring up the dike at Quyon. MRC des Collines police report that trucks are coming in and out non-stop with materials as residents in a perimeter nearby have evacuated. The cable ferry that connected Quyon to Fitzroy Harbour stopped running Monday. It had been the only interprovincial ferry running since last week.

With peak levels set to hit the river on either Tuesday or Wednesday and the work week set to begin, the city has some concerns about the potential drops in volunteers — though they have faith with the army in town.

While the Ottawa River keeps swelling, stewards of the Rideau River say that water levels and flows are dropping towards seasonal levels except on Bobs Lake and Christie Lake, where a flood warning remains in effect.

Rain forecast for later in the week could increase levels on the two lakes, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority said Monday, but Parks Canada staff is monitoring conditions and will operate the Bolingbroke Dam to balance levels.

While water levels have not yet reached their peak, they are all now higher then they were in 2017, which is the record-setting benchmark the city and the board has been using throughout the flooding.

Meanwhile, 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.

The increase in water levels has slowed over the last several days the board says, mostly due to less rainfall that is expected. The forecast peak levels, however, remain the same.

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 / Postmedia

On Saturday, the City of Ottawa announced it has begun voluntary evacuation procedures, and as of Sunday morning, 18 homeowners have left their homes in the area.

Spring training will have to wait a bit with the City of Ottawa appealing to residents and organizers of public events to stay off ball diamonds, sports fields and other turfed areas including parks and fields because of extremely wet conditions.

Using them could cause damage. The city said it will officially open ball diamonds and sports fields as soon as weather permits.

Drone footage captured by The Weather Network shows the severity of the flooding in Ottawa, with roads in parts of the city completely washed out.

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.

Though initial forecasts claimed peak levels would be hit by Saturday, the board believes the river will be at its highest point 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.

READ MORE: 18 homes evacuated as Ottawa River floods, Chaudière Bridge closing due to ‘high water levels’

At Britannia, the water on Monday morning was already 11 centimetres above the 2017 flood level, according to the planning committee.

Current Ottawa River levels as of 5:00 p.m. on April 28 according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.

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.

On Sunday morning, the city gave an update on some of the statistics of flood operations across the city:

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 / Postmedia

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:

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.

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Chaudiere Falls in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Chaudiere Bridge in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Flood waters have reached the bridge and now is causing damage. The bridge is closed.   Tony Caldwell /jpg

Portage Bridge in morning rush hour in Ottawa Monday April 29, 2019. Tony Caldwell   Tony Caldwell /jpg