Chaudière Crossing closed as Ottawa River water levels rise

Chaudière Crossing
Water surges below the Chaudière Crossing on Friday evening. The federal government closed the series of bridges over the weekend. (Photo by Peter Kovessy)

An interprovincial bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau remain closed to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists Monday morning as water continues to rise with peaks not expected along the Ottawa River for at least another day.

Traffic is being diverted to the nearby Portage Bridge.

Over the weekend, hundreds of military members joined more than 2,000 volunteers to get sandbags ready for properties facing the threat of flooding along the Ottawa River.

In Constance Bay, on the western edge of the city, a line of trucks, flatbeds and SUVs wove their way through the parking lot of the community centre to have sandbags piled up. The bags were whisked to nearby properties where they were piled up almost a metre high in places as residents hoped to protect their homes from waters set to peak by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Pumps pushed water out of flooded basements and onto roads.

Chris Brown was putting bags along his property on Sunday afternoon after watching the water rise higher than it did in 2017.

His property in Constance Bay is actually considered to be out of the 100-year floodplain, which means he has overland flood insurance should the sandbags fail and the water gets into his home.

“That's us. Virtually everybody down the road there, many of these people, they're not covered. And for many of them, this is their lives here and for them it's very significant,” he said.

Municipal officials are coordinating evacuations for residents whose safety or property is being threatened by the rising waters. At an afternoon briefing, city officials said 18 homes had been voluntarily evacuated, and the city was encouraging more homeowners to consider leaving over concerns that rising waters may soon make some roads impassable.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has issued a ban on marine navigation in several areas, including a stretch of the Ottawa River between Ottawa-Gatineau and the Carillon generating station, as well as on Lake of Two Mountains, Riviere-des-Mille-Iles and Riviere-des-Prairies.

West of Ottawa, Renfrew County joined the growing list of regions that have declared states of emergency, with Warden Jennifer Murphy calling on residents to remain diligent as water levels continue to rise.

Elsewhere, the community of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que. – a suburb west of Montreal – faced a dire situation Saturday night after the Lake of Two Mountains burst through a natural dike.

More than 5,000 residents were forced to grab what essentials they could, including pets, and flee as waist-high water filled their streets and homes. Another 1,500 people were evacuated the following day.

Premier Francois Legault visited the scene yesterday and announced $1 million in immediate funding to the Red Cross to ensure the evacuees' immediate needs are met. He said it was “almost a miracle” that everyone was safe.

The dike breach brought to 5,584 the total number of flooded homes in Quebec, with some 7,566 forced to evacuate.

Canadian Armed Forces personnel are also packing and stacking sandbags in central Ontario's cottage country where flooding has prompted the declaration of states of emergency in the communities of Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes, Huntsville and Minden Hills. And more rain is forecast for the region later this week.

Meanwhile, the forecast for southern New Brunswick calls for floodwaters to slowly recede in most areas this week, however, communities along the Saint John River from Fredericton to Saint John remain above flood stage.