Bracebridge has called in troops from the Canadian Armed Forces who are expected to deploy early Sunday afternoon to help with the ongoing flooding emergency, Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith said.
The troops will help with sandbag efforts, first responders who need to get through closed roads and people wishing to self-evacuate, Smith added.
Bracebridge is also no longer recommending that residents of the Beaumont Drive area self-evacuate.
“That road is open to local traffic only and we believe residents can get in and out,” Smith said. “There’s still water over the road and they have to be really careful going through there, but we got traffic monitors at each end.”
According to a Huntsville news release from late Saturday afternoon, the town experienced a slight increase in water levels due to precipitation and expects it to be at least a week before residents see a noticeable reduction in water levels.
Huntsville mayor Scott Aitchison told Global News early Saturday afternoon that he thinks Huntsville has seen the worst of the flooding. “There’s been a couple spots that have risen and a couple spots have gone down, but overall we think we’re seeing sort of a stabilization of the overall volume,” he said.
As of Saturday morning, the water levels rose in Bracebridge, which has been receiving much of the floodwater from Huntsville, located about a half-hour north.
According to a press release from Bracebridge, flows have increased in the north and south branches of the Muskoka River. Environment Canada data shows that flows will continue to rise for the next 48 to 72 hours.
Bracebridge is experiencing flooding levels that have exceeded those of 2013, and according to Smith, the number of people affected is likely higher than the 1,092 permanent residents and 1,020 seasonal properties that were impacted during 2013.
“I don’t know if we’re going to see it rise a lot more than it already has,” Smith said. “How long they stay at that level and how long it takes to go down, we don’t know exactly.”
“I think any dry day is good news at this point,” Smith said. “That’s really going to give the watershed a chance to flush some of the water out of its system.”As of Saturday afternoon, Environment Canada said, rain is not forecast in Bracebridge and Huntsville until Wednesday.
In Lake Muskoka, however, the water levels are continuing to rise, Smith added.
Road closures are in place in Bracebridge and Huntsville. Bracebridge has been unable to provide an estimated time for road restoration due to increasing water levels, but Public Works is making repairs where possible and monitoring road conditions.
According to the Bracebridge release, road closures may affect emergency services’ response times to flooded locations and may limit their ability to access certain areas.
Bracebridge has also declared all water-side parks and access points closed until further notice.
Municipal water sources are not affected by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s health advisory.
Water filling stations can be accessed in Bracebridge at 336 Ecclestone Drive and at 1601 Beaumont Drive.
According to the Bracebridge release, property owners should contact their insurance providers regarding flood damage claims.
WATCH: Neighbours helping each other save their homes from flooding in Bracebridge, Ont.
The province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program helps people recover costs after natural disasters. It may be activated for damage to private property if there’s a sudden and unexpected natural event, such as a flood, that causes costly and widespread damage in an area, the statement says.
In Bracebridge, free sandbags for properties affected by flooding are available at 1206 Rosewarne Drive. Sand materials and bags are also available at the George Road boat launch overflow parking lot, the end of Maplewood Road and on Herbert Court.
In Huntsville, free sand and bags are available at 387 South Mary Lake Rd. and at 7 Burrow Pit Ln. Bags are available at 9 Ott Dr. and 40 Cairns Cres., and people can get free sand at 815 Muskoka Rd. 3 N. Bags and sand are available at 1265 Aspdin Rd.
On Wednesday, Bracebridge recommended evacuations for 1094 to 1160 Springdale Shores, Holiday Park Drive and 10 to 118 Cedar Shores.
Bracebridge and Huntsville remain in states of emergency due to flooding.
An emergency, according to Canada’s Department of Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is a present or imminent event that requires quick action to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and to limit damage to property or the environment.
During an emergency, a plan is activated that outlines all the responsibilities, actions and procedures required.