Mississippi rising: Lanark County residents scramble to save homes

People living along the Mississippi River west of Ottawa are racing against time to protect their homes from flooding as water levels continue to rise.

On Birch Point Lane, just outside Carleton Place, Ont., about a dozen homes on Mississippi Lake were already surrounded by water Tuesday as neighbours raced to fill and stack sandbags in a desperate attempt to prevent further flooding.

'Hopefully we'll prevail in this, but Mother Nature is strong at the end of the day.' - Gerry Townend

Gerry Townend's mother has lived in the area for 30 years. He said this is the worst flooding the family has seen since 1998. 

"It is emotional, there's no question ... hopefully we'll prevail in this, but Mother Nature is strong at the end of the day," Townend said.

Flood warning

On Saturday, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) issued a flood warning for the entire Mississippi River watershed.

MVCA water management supervisor Gord Mountenay told CBC levels in the upper part of the watershed will continue to rise until Friday or Saturday. 

He's expecting Mississippi Lake to rise by another 10 to 15 centimetres, and that will cause the river to rise downstream as well.  

Jean Delisle/CBC

Walter Hall lives a few kilometres downriver from Birch Point Lane, and has also been working hard to save his property. He just moved in last June, and said keeping the water out has been a full-time job since Friday. 

"I was up until about midnight just watching it, digging trenches to get the flow of water going. Then when you go to lay down, you got it in your mind. I kept looking out the window, checking them, and up every hour. Yeah, it's stressful," said Hall, who's been using both sandbags and pumps to keep the water at bay,

Island in the stream

In the village of Lanark, Cheryl Shepherd's home has suddenly become an island, surrounded by the swift-flowing Clyde River, just west of the Mississippi. On Tuesday, people stopped to snap photos.

"There's no use crying over spilt milk. You can't do anything about it, except clean up afterwards," said Shepherd, who moved all her belongings to the second level of her home before the water took hold. 

Several roads in the area have been closed due to the flooding, but Lanark Highlands Reeve Peter McLaren said the Clyde peaked on the weekend and is starting to recede. 

He's hoping the worst is over.

"Depends on the rain. Thank God it's sunny today so far [to] give us a little bit of space, let some of the high ground dry out a little bit so it can absorb a little bit of the rain tomorrow as it falls," McLaren said.