Spring flooding in Canada: City of Ottawa declares state of emergency as Quebec calls for further evacuations
Residents and officials in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario are working to clean up damage from a fresh round of springtime flooding and stave off further rising waters. Here’s what we know so far
April 26, 2019
ON THE GROUND
Quebec public security officials said more than 2,500 homes were flooded and more than 2,100 were isolated Thursday, meaning they were considered cut off due to washed out roads or landslides. It’s the second bout of major spring flooding in three years in Gatineau and area.
Premier Francois Legault says the government will offer homeowners $200,000 to abandon homes that flood year after year, after capping flood relief compensation at $100,000 starting this year.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited an evacuation centre in Gatineau and told media Canadians and their governments need to adapt to the reality of more frequent flooding due to climate change.
“It means we have to think about adaptation, mitigation and how we are going to move forward together,” he said.
ON THE GROUND
Houses and roads are seen flooded as the Saint John River overflows its banks in the area surrounding Fredericton, New Brunswick on April 22, 2019.
Water levels were predicted to reach 5.6 metres in Saint John Thursday, and the provincial government warned residents that the waters are still expected to rise as the Saint John River continues to swell. Officials reiterated previous warnings for residents to get out before conditions get worse.
Among 84 closed roads across the province is a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Oromocto and River Glade. Everyone from community volunteers to federal officials and Canadian Armed Forces are pitching in to help – even federal fisheries officers are aiding evacuation efforts in Fredericton, Quispamsis and St. George.
Greg MacCallum of the Emergency Measures Organization is urging patience during an event he expects “is going to continue for a number of days more.” He surveyed the flood zone by helicopter along with Premier Blaine Higgs, and said it resembles last year’s damage.
Officials have warned residents of flood-prone areas to get out while they can.
'Last year was supposed to be once in a lifetime’: Quebec and New Brunswick brace for new reality of perennial floods
About 400 soldiers are being deployed in Ottawa to assist with flooding efforts in the city as water levels on the Ottawa River rise to dangerous levels.
Many roads in the Bracebridge area, in Ontario’s cottage country, have been washed out by floodwaters as two nearby lakes are have water levels that exceed those last seen during serious flooding in 2013.
The office of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the combination of already high water levels and further rainfall give rise to a situation that “constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm.” It said the water levels pose “an ongoing threat” to property, health and safety of nearby residents.
The communities of Bracebridge and Minden HIlls have declared a state of emergency and advising residents in areas prone to flooding to relocate.
Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith was joined at a news conference Wednesday by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, whose family has a cottage in the area.
The long view