Feds close Gatineau offices as hundreds of residents evacuated amid floods

Flood
Flooding along the Ottawa River (Photo by Ross Dunn / Flickr)

The federal government asked local bureaucrats who work in Gatineau or normally commute across interprovincial bridges to stay home Monday as the region grapples with flooding.

Treasury board officials said the move was intended to keep local roads clear for emergency personnel as well as keep affected residents safe.

Residents on both sides of the Ottawa River tried desperately to save their homes and those of their neighbours from flooding, as water levels continued to rise Sunday.

In Cumberland, on the east side of Ottawa, Glen Roberts and his wife Catherine McKenzie Roberts came back Sunday to help their neighbours, after being forced to leave their home early Saturday morning.

Roberts had spent two days putting sandbags around his home and raising his appliances off the ground onto milk crates, but it wasn’t enough.

“It’s just hitting me that I’m homeless. I’m a homeless person,” McKenzie Roberts said, explaining that she and her husband had just finished renovating their kitchen and installing new appliances, now the kitchen is filled with six inches of water. “We just did it. That’s the thing. If it had been 10 years or something, then it would have been OK I want a new kitchen anyway, but that’s not the case.”

Across the National Capital Region, nearly 850 people have evacuated their homes since Tuesday, including 741 people in Gatineau.

The flooding has affected more than 500 homes.

Gatineau has been the hardest hit and military personnel have been deployed to help. By Monday, 80 personnel will be in place helping with the emergency efforts.

Gatineau city officials said Sunday that dozens of streets remain closed and more than 183,000 sandbags have been distributed in the last week.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, more than 100 mm of rain has fallen in the region since May 1.

Meanwhile, on the Ottawa side, flooding has affected Britannia, Cumberland, Constance Bay, Dunrobin, Fitzroy Harbour and MacLarens Landing.

Ottawa activated its emergency operations centre over the weekend and fire crews were helping with evacuations in several parts of the city.

The Ottawa River Regulation planning board, which monitors water levels, estimated that the river would hit its peak sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

– This story originally appeared in Metro News.