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Monday flood updates in Ottawa and Gatineau: Second person dies, bridge and road closures as waters continue to rise

The flood has claimed its second life in the region after a 34-year-old Arnprior man was found dead in the water on a flooded road Sunday night.

Russell Rouleau, who had been reported missing earlier in the day, was found after Renfrew OPP officers were called to Riverview Drive in Arnprior.

A woman in Pontiac, Louise Séguin Lortie, plunged to her death in a creek bed on April 20 near Quyon after her car plunged off a washed out road.

As the waters continue to rise in the Ottawa River, homeowners and thousands of volunteers in Cumberland, Gatineau, Britannia Bay and Constance Bay spent a frantic weekend sandbagging to try to protect homes.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin warned of turbulent days ahead and pleaded with motorists to stay off the roads this week.

Although travel will be unavoidable for some people, the Gatineau mayor asked that those who can work remotely or change their hours to commute outside of rush-hour do so. For those who must commute and can’t change their hours, he urged them to carpool to limit the number of vehicles on the road.

Monday was the first weekday commute since the Chaudière Bridge was closed due to rising floodwaters. Public service managers are being asked to give staff who live or work in Gatineau “maximum flexibility” over their work arrangements.

The City of Ottawa suggested working from home or taking the bus but otherwise to “expect delays and be patient” during the Monday morning commute.

Besides the Chaudière Bridge, stretches of Highway 50, including the St. Louis on and offramps, and Fournier Boulevard, which was shored up with gravel, are closed as well.

Traffic is one way towards Hull on the Alonzo Wright Bridge in the morning and there are widespread road closures in waterfront neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Commission reminded motorists Monday morning of construction on the Portage Bridge. The northbound centre lane heading to Gatineau will be closed “occasionally” for construction between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. starting Monday and running through May 10.

Water levels in the Ottawa River at some locations are still rising. The river could rise another 40 to 50 centimetres before it peaks on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The water is expected to be higher than the disastrous flood in 2017 at all areas along the Ottawa River, says the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.

“Areas that were not impacted by the 2017 flooding may also be at risk.”

After mid-week, the levels should remain fairly stable, “depending on weather conditions,” the board said in its last posting Sunday night .

And there’s more rain the forecast. Periods of rain are to start Monday evening, with drizzle Tuesday and the possibility of as much as 10 to 15 mm of rain falling by Wednesday.

It was a weekend of frantic sandbagging as  near-record levels on the Ottawa River threatened new neighbourhoods and Canadian Forces personnel fanned out across the city.

As many as 3,000 volunteer sandbaggers turned out at centres across the city as a growing stream of residents evacuated their homes in the face of rising floodwaters.

There were glimmers of hope on Sunday afternoon as sandbagging efforts paid off in Britannia where a leaking berm had sparked concern a day earlier. Volunteers patrolled the length of the berm through the night and by midday Sunday so many volunteers had turned out to sandbag there was a healthy reserve ready to be deployed as needed to other problem areas.

In Cumberland, military members were on-hand to help fight back the water, working side by side with volunteers building up sandbag walls.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” was a mantra repeated through the weekend. At a briefing Saturday affected residents were reminded that the water will remain high for weeks, while the cleanup and restoration is sure to be a prolonged affair.

In Gatineau, more than 700 people have had to leave their homes. Richard Lafrance, 62, who lives on Rue René, said he’s the last one left in his little area, as others have bolted from the high waters or never rebuilt after demolitions post-2017.

Flood warnings have been issued across much of southeast, south-central and northeast Ontario. States of emergency have been declared in the following municipalities:

  • City of Ottawa
  • Town of Huntsville
  • Town of Bracebridge
  • Township of Minden Hills
  • Township of Whitewater Region
  • Township of Horton
  • Township of McNab/Braeside
  • City of Clarence-Rockland
  • Township of Alfred-Plantagenet
  • Township of Laurentian Valley
  • County of Renfrew
  • Township of Greater Madawaska

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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