‘Ottawa’ Sandbags are on Standby as Ottawa-Gatineau, Surrounding areas Brace for More rain
Thursday is the final waiting day in the capital region: The shelters are open, the sandbags are stacked, the water levels are steady for the moment, and all eyes are on that unforgiving forecast:
“Significant rainfall to begin tonight (Thursday night) and persist into the weekend. With the ground already saturated, there is the potential for local flooding,” Environment Canada warns.
How high will it go? The official forecasts cover a wide range.
The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board is expecting rainfall of 15 to 40 millimetres. It forecasts a rise in water levels of 17 centimetres on Lac Deschênes and 24 cm below Parliament Hill.
However, Environment Canada’s rainfall warning late Thursday said Ottawa will receive in the range of 30 to 50 mm of rain through to Sunday, and areas upstream from us — Renfrew to Algonquin Park — could receive 70 mm.
The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority put out a warning that heavy rains could could raise water levels on the lower Ottawa River by 25 to 35 cm.
It adds that “the rain is forecast to taper off on Sunday so a peak can be expected late on Sunday or on Monday.”
Ontario’s emergency management system is on high alert monitoring weather information and the risk of further flooding across the province, the ministers of municipal affairs and community safety said in a statement Thursday.
“As communities across the province prepare for heavy rainfall and potential flooding over the next 24 hours, with some reports of flooding having started already, our government is working hard to prepare for any situation, and standing by ready to help.”
Already an entire neighbourhood on the east side of the Gatineau River around St. Louis Street, between Parc La Baie and Highway 50, is covered in brown water with houses popping up like little islands. All the streets are closed to traffic. People can stay home if they want, but they need a boat to go anywhere and many have no heat because the gas is shut off.
On Thursday, water was gushing down the Ottawa River at a rate of 7,500 cubic metres per second. That’s equal to pouring out a tank 100 metres long, 75 wide, and one metre deep, every second.
There’s more river’s-edge flooding in Gatineau east of Parc La Baie and near Masson.
Sewers there are threatening to become a problem, though they’re still flowing for now.
Gatineau warned: “Wastewater systems are full of flood waters. No backup has been reported for the time being.”