Rising water levels creeping towards houses in east Gatineau

The water table is rising along the Ottawa River and for many waterfront residents in east Gatineau, this means continued efforts and preparations in the hopes of protecting their homes.

Susanne Currier has a huge task ahead, to circle her home and above ground pool in a wall of sandbags. Her home is in a precarious position along the east side of Boulevard Hurtubise. The front faces the Ottawa River, and in behind is a large bay, meaning the water is coming from every direction.

“We’re going to try because we have the Baie McLaurin in the back coming faster than actually the Ottawa River, so our peak will be Thursday night,” says Currier. “In 2019, we put 2,500 bags around the house it didn’t make a difference; I still had four feet and a half of water in the basement. After that, I raised the house six feet above the ground—higher than I was before—but I’ve been pumping my basement and well since last week … This year we don’t have a lot of help because people are fed up.”

The city of Gatineau has made efforts to help, providing pallets of ready-made sandbags, but for area residents like John Miller, hauling bag after bag after bag is a heavy job.

“This is my first load and I might have four, five, maybe six trailer loads,” he says. “I’m going to put them in front of the house, I don’t want to take any chances lets just do it before it happens.”

The city of Gatineau notes that water levels are still rising, but not as fast as expected. Since Tuesday evening, there has been an increase of 16 cm for the Ottawa River. A rise of approximately 1 cm per hour.

“It’s creeping up. It came up about a foot or a foot and a half since last night,” says Michael McCann. “We’re just planning for the flood and hopefully it won’t be as bad as it was in 2017 and 2019, we’re just preparing properly with sandbags.”

There is a road between McCann’s home and the river, but the water has begun to lap on to the roadway. His plan is to weigh down the stair leading up to his front door, as well as his deck, both of which began to float during the last floods.

“Worrisome as usual. They say it’s not going to be as bad but you never know, you just prepare for the best and try to protect your home and your property from damage.”

The peak is expected to occur between Wednesday and Friday. Water levels will remain high for several days and the city estimates that about 1,049 properties will be affected by water and around quarter of those are at risk of flooding. 

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