The levels of the Ottawa River in and around the national capital reached their peak earlier this week and are now slowly receding, but they’re expected to remain high “over the next two weeks,” according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.
The height of the river decreased between four and six centimetres overnight near Ottawa, Gatineau, Thurso and Hawkesbury, the river board’s Friday morning forecast shows. But the Ottawa area isn’t necessarily out of the woods.
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“Along the Ottawa River below Lac Coulonge, levels are expected to remain stable or slowly decline over the next few days at all locations,” the update said.
“Further flooding is possible in the event of significant rainfall events during this period of time.”
The flood levels in Chats Lake, near Arnprior, and in Lac Deschenes/Britannia in Ottawa reached their peaks on Tuesday, while Gatineau/Hull and areas downstream — including Thurso and Grenville/Hawkesbury — reached their peaks on Wednesday, the board says.
On Friday, Ottawa is forecast to get periods of rain ending in the early afternoon, with a 60 per cent chance of drizzle later in the afternoon and evening, according to Environment Canada.
Upstream from Ottawa, water levels are projected to still rise significantly in Pembroke (+43 centimetres) and Lac Coulonge (+21 centimetres), peaking on Monday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 8. Both areas are experiencing levels higher than those recorded during the peak of the floods in 2017.
The peak levels measured in Chats Lake and areas downstream this week were either just shy of or exceeded the 2017 peaks. Some areas broke historical records.
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The board is expected to post another update on flood levels at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Ottawa remains under a state of emergency. The city is asking residents to stay clear of the city’s flood zones unless they reside in one of those communities or are volunteering with flood relief efforts.
City asks volunteers to stand down, for now
After issuing daily callouts for volunteers over the past week, the City of Ottawa on Thursday evening thanked the thousands of people who have helped with sandbagging and other efforts to date, and asked them to stand down, for now.
“It is expected that a limited number of volunteers will be needed for specific tasks on Friday, May 3, and the upcoming weekend (Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5),” the city said in a news release. “A full complement of City of Ottawa staff and Canadian Armed Forces personnel will remain at all flood sites.”
“Throughout the coming weekend, a limited number of adults who can lift and manoeuver filled sandbags will be needed to volunteer each day at the Dunrobin Community Centre to help residents with a variety of needs.”
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The volunteer check-in points in Cumberland and Britannia will remain closed “until further notice,” the city added.
However, the city warned it will need more volunteers to step up again soon; water levels are expected to remain high and clean-up activities are projected to take weeks.
“For now, anyone not volunteering over the weekend should take this opportunity to rest and prepare to return in the coming weeks,” the release said.
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Nearly 15,000 residents have volunteered with flood relief operations over the last two weeks, according to the municipality. More than 1.5 million sandbags have been filled in that time and, as of Thursday night, enough bags had been filled “to meet the projected needs for all communities,” the city said.
City gives 40 homes in Westboro all-clear to use water after sewer issue
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After asking 40 homes on Churchill Avenue North in Westboro to restrict their water usage for several days, the city on Friday afternoon gave those residents the all-clear to take showers, flush toilets and run dishwashers and washing machines.
The city said earlier this week the sanitary sewer system in that area was stressed but officials couldn’t explain why it was happening.
The affected residents are still being asked to minimize their water usage so the system doesn’t overload.
The city reiterated that Ottawa’s drinking water “continues to be safe and of high quality.”