Chaudière Crossing closed as Ottawa River water levels rise – Ottawa Business Journal

Chaudière Crossing closed as Ottawa River water levels rise - Ottawa Business Journal
Thrill seeker rides jet-ski through Ottawa rapids despite flooding
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.

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.

There are more than 1,400 registered flood victims in Gatineau — up 200 from Sunday morning — representing 159 households. The City of Gatineau assisted with 95 voluntary evacuations.

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.

Water levels of Ottawa River highest on record in most areas, planning board says

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.

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. 

She said the city is still waiting on the engineer's report and will decide if additional sandbags are needed in the area.

Officials also assured residents that the city's drinking water is safe, despite concerns about rising floodwaters potentially cutting off access to at least one water purification plant.

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.

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.

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:

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

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.

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.

CBC News captured drone footage of flooded areas in Gatineau, just across the river from central Ottawa, on Monday. You can watch what's been captured below.

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.

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.

“The rise in water levels along the lower Ottawa River has slowed due to less rainfall than expected in the central and southern portions of the basin and cooler temperatures,” wrote the board in their daily report.

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.

An average of 19,000 vehicles — 13 per cent of interprovincial traffic — normally use it daily, as well as 1,350 cyclists.

Hydro Ottawa has opened up every span of its nearby dam at Chaudière Falls, the second time in its 100-year history it has been forced to do so.

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.

On the Ontario side of the river, the hardest-hit communities include Cumberland, Fitzroy Harbour, Constance Bay, Britannia and Dunrobin in Ottawa, and Clarence-Rockland, Ont., just east of Ottawa. 

On the Quebec side of the river, the hardest hit areas include Aylmer, Point-Gatineau, Lac Beauchamp and Masson-Angers in Gatineau, and Pontiac, Que., west of Gatineau.

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.

The river is expected to peak in the next few days, but that won't spell the end of the crisis.

"We need people to sustain our efforts for multiple weeks," City of Ottawa manager Steve Kanellakos said during a weekend news conference.

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.

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

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.

Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau has banned non-emergency boats from the Ottawa River between the capital city and the Carillon dam on the Ontario-Quebec border. Boaters could face a fine of up to $5,000.

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