Army arrives in Ottawa amid flooding state of emergency


Members of the Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Ottawa this morning to deal with flooding as water levels along the Ottawa River continue to rise and a rainfall warning threatens to make things worse.


The military arrived in the rural northwest Ottawa community of Constance Bay just before 9 a.m. ET Friday, where residents and volunteers have been filling up sandbags for days.

About 400 troops are expected to be deployed to key areas to help with sandbagging and other efforts.

It comes after the city declared a state of emergency Thursday, not long after Environment Canada issued a forecast predicting that up to 35 millimetres of rain could fall by Saturday morning.

By Friday morning, Environment Canada had upgraded the special weather statement to a rainfall warning “due to the limited ability of the ground to absorb this rainfall,” the agency said in a notice posted on its website.

A flooded residence in Ottawa’s Constance Bay community on April 26, 2019. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

At 10:45 a.m., Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale is expected to give an update on federal support for flood victims.

You can watch the update live on this web page.

On the Quebec side of the river

In Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, the navy has been helping with evacuations by boat.

“Exceptional” flood levels are expected to be reached first in the city’s Aylmer and Pointe-Gatineau neighbourhoods.

About 713 flood victims from 342 homes had registered with the city as of Friday morning, many of them from the Boulevard Hurtubise area near Lac Beauchamp.

This image, taken from a helicopter, shows water flowing in the Rouge River near the hydroelectric dam at Bell Falls. Water levels are dangerously high and officials say the dam may fail. (Radio-Canada)

Further east, in the western Laurentians, a bursting Rouge River and possible failure of the Bell Falls Dam led to a mandatory evacuation order Thursday.

The 104-year-old dam was built to withstand flows of up to about 980 cubic metres per second, which is what it is currently seeing. But Hydro-Québec officials believe the flow could increase to 1,300 cubic metres per second.

They expect the dam to hold even at that higher flow rate, but are evacuating the area as a precaution.