Ottawa Valley flooding surpassing 2017 levels

Residents across the Ottawa Valley on both sides of the river are taking major flood prevention measures.

As of May 2, water levels measured in Pembroke by the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board came in at 113.11 metres above sea level.

The peak in 2017 in Pembroke was recorded at 113.03 metres on May 4. For comparison, levels peaked in Pembroke in 2019 at 113.69 metres.

In Laurentian Valley, which neighbours the city of Pembroke, residents on Sullivan Point Road are sandbagging as water inches closer to their homes by the hour.

“This is a yearly thing for us around here,” says Braydon Couturier, who was helping protect his uncle’s home.

Couturier says he is surprised to hear levels have surpassed 2017’s record. He tells CTV News that flood prep is a regular occurrence on Sullivan Point Road.

“This year, it’s not so bad. We got a late start. A week or so ago it wasn’t really like this. So I’m hoping this doesn’t last too long.”

Roughly a dozen residents in the area are hampered by floodwaters accessing their homes, says Laurentian Valley’s Community Emergency Management Coordinator Lauree Armstrong.

“Indications that we were looking towards were 2017 [levels], now I think it’s a little bit higher than they had kind of hoped.”

Going by the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board’s (ORRPB) forecast, Armstrong says township residents can expect local levels to rise by as much as 45 centimetres.

“The anticipation is that should be hit later tomorrow into Thursday.”

Across the river in Quebec, Fort Coulonge has declared a state of emergency, with fears the town’s water filtration system will be overwhelmed by floodwaters.

“The sewer system, it will back up in the houses, so we will need to evacuate those houses,” worries Mayor Christine Francoeur, if waters continue to rise.

Francoeur says Fort Coulonge has brought in an additional pump to the system, but levels there are expected to exceed 2017 readings by the end of the week.

“The pumps are being watched over around the clock, 24 hours,” she tells CTV News.

“We have somebody at the pump constantly. Nobody is leaving there until the water goes down.”

The ORRPB anticipates the areas of Fort Coulonge, Whitewater Region, Pembroke, and Mattawa will exceed water level records from 2017.

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