OTTAWA — Water levels are expected to peak by week’s end in flood zones around the nation’s capital, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said as he toured neighbourhoods in east Ottawa, and he doesn’t expect a second wave of flooding like the one the area experienced in 2017.
That is, of course, as long as the weather forecast holds, Goodale added.
“We should see the crest on one side of Ottawa and then the other side of Ottawa within the next day or two,” Goodale told reporters as he stood in front of the swollen Ottawa River.
“It should not get any worse beyond that.”
However, unlike in New Brunswick where floodwaters have begun to recede, Ottawa residents can expect to see the water remain at or near record levels for at least a week as snowmelt continues to pour in from the north, Goodale said.
Ottawa is among areas in Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec that have seen record flooding this spring, but in 2017 it had two rounds of floods weeks apart. And it was in the second round that much of the flooding damage occurred.
In New Brunswick, Goodale said, the flooding situation is “under control and getting better.”
“The water crest is moving toward Saint John but the situation is steadily improving, it’s stable,” he said.
Goodale commended volunteers and the military, who have protected homes in flood zones with walls of sandbags, as well as the many Canadians far from the affected areas who have offered financial and other support.
“There’s been a tremendous outpouring of very determined effort by Canadians to say they care and they want to be involved in the solutions.”
At one point as he toured Ottawa’s flooded eastern region, Goodale got aboard a boat to view an area, especially hard hit by this year’s flooding, that is currently unreachable by land vehicles.
While he could not provide an accurate estimate, the minister said he did not expect the overall cost of the flooding in Eastern Canada to reach the record levels seen by Albertans in 2013 as a result of the High River flooding. That disaster is estimated to have cost $5 billion in property damages — the City of Calgary calculated the disaster cost $409 million in damage to its municipal infrastructure alone.
But Goodale said much of the damage from this year’s flooding in Eastern Canada can’t be quantified in dollars. There will be much emotional damage, he said, particularly among those who lived through similar flooding in 2017 only to experience it at even higher levels this spring.
“Getting better will take a significant length of time,” he said. “People are going to need the patience to get through that and the support systems to get through that.”
Many of the homeowners affected by rising waters two years ago had just completed renovations and moved back into dwellings recently, only to see their homes damaged again.
Looking ahead, Goodale said the federal government will meet with provinces, municipalities, the Red Cross, private insurance companies and others to find better ways to prevent future flood damage.
Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press