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Rain spurs Pembroke to declare flood emergency; local river levels rising to historic heights

Click to play video 'Lighthouse at Pembroke Marina scuttled by Ottawa River’s rising waters' Lighthouse at Pembroke Marina scuttled by Ottawa River’s rising waters
WATCH: A lighthouse located on the banks of the Ottawa River was toppled over the weekend as the level of the river continues to rise, threatening dozens of communities – Apr 29, 2019

The City of Pembroke declared a state of emergency on Thursday morning, saying forecasts of “significant rain” are expected to push the Ottawa River to flood levels “that will exceed the city’s resources.”

Those water levels are also nearing record-breaking heights, according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.

READ MORE: What does it mean when a community is in a state of emergency?

“The city is declaring an emergency in an abundance of caution to ensure that resources are available to property owners should the need arise,” said a statement issued by the municipality, which is located about 150 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

“Be assured that key city infrastructure is not in jeopardy.”

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The river near Pembroke measured 113.53 metres above sea level on Wednesday afternoon — the second-highest level on record, according to the river board’s latest forecast.

On Wednesday, the river board projected the water would rise another 22 centimetres before peaking at 113.75 metres on Friday — about eight centimetres higher than the 1960 historical peak of 113.67 metres.

Environment Canada also issued a special weather statement for the Pembroke area on Thursday morning, warning of “significant rainfall” between Thursday and Friday afternoon.

READ MORE: With heavy rain in forecast, Ottawa flood levels could reach initial peaks again: river board

The region could get soaked by anywhere from 20 to 40 millimetres of rain, but up to 50 millimetres are possible “in areas that receive a thunderstorm,” according to the statement. The heaviest rain is expected on Thursday afternoon and night, the weather agency said.

The statement also flagged the possibility of flooding in low-lying areas.

“The ground, already near saturation, has a lessened ability to absorb further rainfall,” Environment Canada said.