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‘The new norm’: Ottawa mayor says change is needed amid record-breaking floods

Click to play video: 'Drone footage shows severity of flooding in Ottawa' Drone footage shows severity of flooding in Ottawa
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 – Apr 27, 2019

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was in Fitzroy Harbour on Monday visiting volunteers and surveying the damage caused by record-breaking floods in the area.

While visiting with volunteers and military members who continue to fill sandbags to be used to fight the flooding, the mayor remarked on how well the affected communities have stepped up to help their neighbours.

WATCH: Ottawa riverfront park left almost underwater during flood emergency

Click to play video: 'Ottawa riverfront park left almost underwater during flood emergency' Ottawa riverfront park left almost underwater during flood emergency
Ottawa riverfront park left almost underwater during flood emergency – Apr 29, 2019

READ MORE: Ottawa flood victims say more homes would be lost if not for volunteers, military

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“It’s pretty heartwarming and overwhelming to see this level of community support, but we know the worst has yet to come, unfortunately,” said Watson. “We’ve seen the level of water rising significantly higher than in 2017 and 2017 was really bad here in West Carleton as well as in Britannia and Cumberland.”

Watson also reiterated the need for volunteers in the area, as the city saw a dip in the number of people who could help due to the start of the work week.

READ MORE: OPP investigating death of man, 34, found dead in Arnprior flood zone

While over 9,000 volunteers have stepped up since last week to fight the flooding, Watson says there is still much more that needs to be done, especially now that these events are happening more frequently.

“Well, sadly it is the new norm. This is not a one in 100-year flood, this is once every two years that we’re seeing,” said Watson. “You know, the reality is that part of our infrastructure planning has to go to ensure that we prepared against climate change and climate change in this community.

“This community has seen a flood in 2017, a tornado in 2018 and a flood again 2019. It’s really tough on the people and it’s tough on the infrastructure and we have to build to a higher, more resilient standard.”

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WATCH: Ottawa-area resident says they’re ‘desperate’ for help in flood response

Click to play video: 'Ottawa-area resident says they’re ‘desperate’ for help in flood response' Ottawa-area resident says they’re ‘desperate’ for help in flood response
Ottawa-area resident says they’re ‘desperate’ for help in flood response – Apr 26, 2019

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

At a media conference at city hall on Monday, officials outlined not only what their plans are at this stage, but also when the water recedes.

The city says it will continue to monitor the physical and mental health of volunteers and homeowners in the area, especially now that exhaustion begins to set in.

Military members, who now number more than 600 in the area, will continue their operation of bagging and delivering sand to the affected communities and the Department of National Defence has pledged up to 900 soldiers for the operation if need be.

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The city began voluntary evacuations this past weekend and so far 21 homes have been evacuated, with the majority of them being in the Constance Bay area, according to city officials.

The city also says they are striking up a group to talk about debris management once the water levels recede.

WATCH: In the Ottawa-Gatineau region, flood waters are expected to crest mid-week. Nearly everyone has decided to stay and try to pump the water away from their homes.  Mike Le Couteur has more on the resilience of the community.

Click to play video: 'Ottawa residents rush to save homes from rising waters' Ottawa residents rush to save homes from rising waters
Ottawa residents rush to save homes from rising waters – Apr 29, 2019

By the numbers

As of April 29:

  • 8,656 volunteers have helped at the three sites since Friday, April 19, with 3,363 volunteers helping on Sunday, April 28
  • 994,260 sandbags have been made available to residents
  • Over 700 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are providing flooding assistance relief in the Ottawa area
  • City emergency services and Ottawa Public Health have conducted more than 466 wellness visits in all affected areas
  • 21 residents have self-evacuated
  • 1,975 people have joined the City’s Spring Flood 2019 Facebook page
  • Water levels are expected to peak by mid-week, as forecasted by the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board

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