While eastern Canada battles rising flood waters, evacuees of Kashechewan are on Parliament Hill demanding the federal government honours a commitment it made 2 years ago to relocate the northern Ontario First Nation to higher, drier ground @CBCAlerts @CBCNews #Flood2019
Heavy rainfall warnings, special weather statements issued for flood zones
Severe spring flooding that has forced thousands of residents from their homes in Canada's eastern half refuses to let up in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Environment Canada has issued heavy rainfall warnings and special weather statements — with a mess of rain, sleet, snow and ice pellets possible across a wide section of the flood zones starting Tuesday night and continuing Wednesday. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said at a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday that there are now 2,600 Canadian Forces personnel deployed across the three provinces, with more on standby. He said about 1,000 of those are in Quebec. Another 1,500 have been authorized to be sent to Ontario to help with historic flooding along the Ottawa River and in central Ontario cottage country towns like Bracebridge and MuskokaLakes.Annual flooding in the Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario remains a concern. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the vast majority of the 1,600 evacuations in Ontario are from that region, with the remainder mostly from the Ottawa area. While many in these areas have been deploying sandbags to help cope with the flooding, researchers and consultants say they aren't necessarily the best solution.They say the sacks can be effective in flash floods or other situations where they won't be in contact with water for too long, but sandbags lose their effectiveness as soon as they become saturated with water, meaning they have limited impact during prolonged floods. Here are the latest developments in each affected region.An estimated one million sandbags are standing between the Ottawa River and residences and businesses in Ottawa, and more are in place across the river in Gatineau, Que. But they may not be up to the task of holding back the water, which is expected to rise another 50 centimetres and not peak until later Tuesday or Wednesday. Municipal officials in Ottawa don't expect to be near cleanup mode until the Victoria Day long weekend. Watch aerial footage of the flooded Ottawa River:Goodale also flagged another source of concern. "The water level now in Lake Ontario is just to about its maximum normal run off," he said. "All of that obviously has to flow east. Combining with the flow coming down the Ottawa [River], that presents significant potential issues in relation to Montreal and places further downstream." The weather could also make things difficult for those working to shore up properties against the floodwaters on Wednesday. Ottawa-Gatineau and areas to the west as far as Algonquin Park on the Ontario side of the river are expected to get two to five centimeters of snow, mixed with ice pellets, then 15 to 25 mm of rain.The island of Montreal and Laval remain in states of emergency, a measure giving authorities the power to seize property and force evacuations, while officials in Quebec say the data available suggests the risk of flooding on several rivers across the province remains high. An additional 34 local states of emergency are still in effect around the province.The province reported over 6,400 flooded homes, a further 3,500 surrounded by water and more than 10,000 evacuees — most of them from Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.The St. John River from Fredericton to Saint John is still above flooding levels, but emergency officials said the river system is expected to recede to near or below flood stage before the week ends. The entire river basin is steadily declining, according to Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (EMO). EMO is now turning its focus to cleanup measures. Residents, however, are warned to avoid contact with floodwater, which can contain sewage and other waste.The Trans-Canada Highway remains closed between Oromocto and River Glade, N.B., but the province's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said it could reopen this week. This is the second year in a row the major highway has closed due to flooding. Despite the turn in events, strong winds in the forecast remain a concern. New Brunswick power crews have been inspecting downed lines:Sajjan visited the Saint John area yesterday to view the activities of military personnel helping in the response effort. He says if the impact of climate change disasters continues to worsen, he may have to increase the number of Canadian Forces personnel available. Goodale said 9,200 residences and cottages have been affected by the flooding in New Brunswick, along with another 7,000 buildings.
OttawaThe Ottawa River should start to peak in some areas west of Ottawa-Gatineau on Tuesday, according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board, which measures its water levels. Some communities along the Ottawa River are already seeing waters higher than they saw in the 2017 flood.
Drone footage shows Ottawa River flooding
QuebecSome people will be able to return to their homes in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que., on Tuesday afternoon after floodwaters breached a dike Saturday and forced about 6,000 to flee. The evacuation order will be lifted in certain areas of the town located northwest of Montreal, and Mayor Sonia Paulus said residents from "these areas will need to present identification and receive clearance before returning home." The order won't include a section of Sainte-Marthe that remains submerged. One resident kayaked through her home and shared emotional video:
This video of Valérie Deslauriers kayaking through her flooded home was posted on Facebook.
Chunks of ice have knocked down a series of power poles
Kashechewan First NationFirst Nations leaders called on the Ontario and federal governments Monday to help relocate the community of Kashechewan as it deals with annual flooding — a problem one said would have already been solved if it involved a non-Indigenous population. Community members rallied on Parliament Hill on Tuesday.
Central Ontario cottage countryThe mayor of Bracebridge said he's hoping tomorrow's weather forecast doesn't play out as expected. Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning for the swath of central Ontario that's been struggling to cope with flooding in recent days. Mayor Graydon Smith said 25 to 30 mm could fall on Bracebridge tomorrow, with the possibility of a little more rain on Thursday. Smith says an additional 60 military personnel are coming to the region today to help with flood conditions, making a total of 160 soldiers in the area. Four municipalities have declared states of emergency in central Ontario, while further east the Ontario government has activated disaster recovery assistance for the county of Renfrew and the city of Pembroke.
With files from The Canadian Press