Ottawa floods: Volunteers asked to rally in west end, sewer issues in Westboro, peak expected Friday

Click to play video 'Flood relief focus on protecting infrastructure, relocating residents: Goodale' Flood relief focus on protecting infrastructure, relocating residents: Goodale
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale held a press conference in Rockland, Ontario on Thursday to provide an update on the flooding in Ottawa and Quebec, saying there was now an emphasis on protecting critical infrastructure and an importance on relocating those who were displaced by the extensive damage caused by the floods – May 2, 2019

As the national capital continues to wait for the bloated Ottawa River to peak, the City of Ottawa is closing the check-in points for volunteers helping with flood relief operations in Cumberland and Britannia on Thursday and asking those willing to help with sandbagging and other efforts to rally in the flood zone in West Carleton.

Waterfront properties in Constance Bay and Fitzroy Harbour are among those hardest hit by record-breaking flooding this spring. As of Wednesday afternoon, about 150 households had evacuated in those communities as the water surrounds their homes and rises to dangerous heights.

WATCH (April 30, 2019): Military surveys Constance Bay floodwaters in Ottawa
Click to play video 'Military surveys Constance Bay floodwaters in Ottawa' Military surveys Constance Bay floodwaters in Ottawa
Military surveys Constance Bay floodwaters in Ottawa – Apr 30, 2019

The municipality is asking volunteers on Thursday to check in at the Dunrobin Community Centre (1151 Thomas A. Dolan Pkwy.) between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. A shuttle will then drive volunteers from the community centre to the affected areas in the rural west end.

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This redirection of volunteer resources is temporary, the city said in a news release late on Wednesday, but it did not provide further details about how long the change would be in effect.

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

Ottawa has been under a state of emergency due to the floods since April 25.

Stressed sewer system in Westboro puzzles city; 40 homes affected

During its daily update on the city’s flood response on Wednesday afternoon, senior city staff said they don’t know what’s stressing a sanitary sewer system near Churchill Avenue North in Westboro — but they believe it to be a “unique” and “isolated” issue.

Officials said they’re concerned the system will get overloaded and are asking about 40 households not to use showers, flush toilets or run dishwashers and washing machines right now.

“Our intent is to minimize the risk of flooding in basements to these homes,” Pierre Poirier, head of emergency management at the City of Ottawa, told reporters.

WATCH (April 30, 2019): Powerful video shows Ottawa River’s force near Chaudière Falls generating facilities
Click to play video 'Powerful video shows Ottawa River’s force near Chaudière Falls generating facilities' Powerful video shows Ottawa River’s force near Chaudière Falls generating facilities
Powerful video shows Ottawa River’s force near Chaudière Falls generating facilities – Apr 30, 2019

Laila Gibbons, director of roads and parking services, said city crews are on site and continue to examine the problem.

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“We don’t have an exact cause,” she said. “We’re in the process of investigating and putting a solution together.”

READ MORE: No injuries after 2nd house fire in Constance Bay flood zone

The storm and sanitary sewers near Churchill Avenue North are separate, not combined like in other areas of the city, Gibbons confirmed.

The city says affected residents can use the washrooms and showers at the Dovercourt Community Centre and the Pinecrest Recreation Complex during their hours of operation.

Flood forecast: peak in Ottawa now expected Friday

Water levels in and around Ottawa don’t appear to have budged much over the last 24 hours, and the forecast for which day the Ottawa River will peak has once again shifted.

In its latest forecast, published on Thursday morning, the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board projects the river will peak in the Lac Deschenes/Britannia, Gatineau/Hull, Thurso and Grenville/Hawkesbury areas on Friday “depending on weather conditions.”

“Once a peak has been reached, levels should start declining slowly but are expected to remain high, as a minimum, over the coming week,” the update reads.

READ MORE: Ottawa tornado victim braces for flood peak as river threatens rental home

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Meanwhile, upstream, the river planning board now expects the water levels to peak in Pembroke on Monday, May 6 and in Lac Coulonge on Wednesday, May 8. The river already reached its peak in Chats Lake on April 30, according to the planning board.

The forecasts are “subject to a high degree of uncertainty and should be used as an approximate reference only,” the board’s updates warn.

Environment Canada says close to eight millimetres of rain fell on the national capital on Wednesday, much less than was predicted for that day.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale meets with a homeowner in Clarence-Rockland talking about the flooding. Crystal Oag / Global News