Gatineau homes no longer at risk of flooding, city says

·2 min read
Gatineau mayor France Bélisle, second from right, speaks Friday during an update on the flooding risk facing the city. (Submitted by the Ville de Gatineau - image credit)
Gatineau mayor France Bélisle, second from right, speaks Friday during an update on the flooding risk facing the city. (Submitted by the Ville de Gatineau - image credit)

Residents of Gatineau, Que., can relax a little as the city's emergency response coordinator says rising river water is no longer expected to flood homes in the city.

Denis Doucet said the Gatineau River is still expected to rise beyond current levels, but should not exceed the flood threshold.

While he said this is good news, he asked residents to stay alert.

"I would like to tell everybody, if you have put any protections in place — leave them there," Doucet said in French during an update Friday afternoon.

The city has prepared 90,000 sandbags and will regularly monitor water levels throughout the weekend. Should the risk of flooding increase, Doucet said there will be time to communicate that to the public.

Residents are asked to check social media and sign up for city alerts.

No longer an emergency

Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle said the city has downgraded the alert level from emergency to monitoring.

"We have to remain vigilant, but we will certainly have a weekend that is a bit less anxious in light of our current situation," Bélisle said in French.

Just last Sunday, the Gatineau River was predicted to rise 2.27 metres in 48 hours, but that projection was downgraded on Wednesday to 1.45 metres. It was further downgraded on Friday.

The reason for the change in outlook is that less rain has recently fallen over Hydro-Quebec's Baskatong Reservoir and the Gatineau River than originally forecast. It also helped that water levels along the Ottawa River are normal this spring, unlike past years that saw dangerously high levels throughout the Ottawa River Basin, which includes the Gatineau River.

Submitted by Shayla Kelly
Submitted by Shayla Kelly

In Maniwaki, Que., about 125 kilometres north of Gatineau, water that began rising last week now appears to be ebbing, according to a news release from Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSO), the regional health authority.

Last week, the Foyer Père-Guinard long-term care home in Maniwaki had to be evacuated due to the flood risk, but CISSO says water never reached the building and the situation is now stable.

Bélisle said she doesn't know how much the flood preparations have cost Gatineau, but said whatever the amount, it was worth it.

"I'm almost happy we did this for nothing, in the end," she said. "When you're a resident who's lived through so much, you want to know your city is there."

This would have been the city's third flood in six years. Bélisle said that frequency, along with last weekend's violent storm, demonstrates the need for better planning to adapt to the long-term effects of climate change.

She said any such planning needs to include infrastructure improvements as well as financial support from upper levels of government, so the city isn't left to manage one crisis after another.

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