After 49 days, the City of Ottawa has ended the state of emergency it declared as the bloated Ottawa River spilled over into several communities earlier this spring, Mayor Jim Watson announced on Wednesday morning.
The mayor declared the state of emergency on April 25, a move that included an appeal for help from the Canadian Armed Forces.
“The emergency may be over officially, but the challenges facing our residents … (are) only just beginning,” Watson said at city hall on Wednesday. “We have to continue to work diligently with those families and residents who were adversely affected.”
Riverfront homes in West-Carleton, Bay and Cumberland wards in the city’s west and east ends were among those most affected and damaged by the flooding. According to the city, 155 households self-evacuated as the river encroached on their properties.
After peaking in early May, the high water levels receded slowly, delaying the start of the city’s recovery work. That effort, including the removal of 1.5 million sandbags that were stacked around threatened properties, kicked into high gear in early June.
After two weekends and support from volunteers, city staff and other agencies, more than 1.1 million sandbags have been taken down in the affected communities, according to Anthony Di Monte, the city’s general manager of emergency and protective services.
During his flood update to councillors on Wednesday, Di Monte thanked all involved in the flood response and recovery efforts and said the city won’t make any further appeals for volunteer help.
The city says more than 15,000 residents have volunteered to fill and remove sandbags since April 19.
Di Monte said the city’s emergency operations centre remains open and municipal staff continue managing debris cleanup, well-water testing and infrastructure and building code services.
The city will continue to assist residents whose properties were damaged in the floods, Di Monte said, noting that many are emotionally and physically exhausted after weeks of work.
Several townships and cities bordering the river close to Ottawa also declared states of emergency as the waters rose to dangerous heights.
Clarence-Rockland, which abuts Ottawa to the east, lifted its state of emergency on June 5.