Gatineau preparing for flooding for 3rd time in 6 years

Officials are once again preparing for flooding in Gatineau, Que., With several parts of the city now at risk.

The city was notified about rapidly rising water levels in the Baskatong Reservoir by civil security officials the day prior, Mayor France Bélisle said at a press conference Monday.

“We received 130 millimeters of water in 10 days. Usually, over the same period, we only receive 80 millimeters,” she told reporters in French.

“High temperatures and heavy snow melt in the northern part of the watershed are increasing the levels,” she said, adding water in the reservoir has risen faster than officials initially anticipated.

“The water needs to be released gradually from the reservoir to avoid any mechanical damage,” she said.

Those living on the edge of the Gatineau river along Saint-Louis and Jacques-Cartier streets should remain on high alert, the city said in a notice shared Monday night.

Residents will be able to start picking up sandbags at a handful of locations as of noon Tuesday.

A few other neighborhoods are at a moderate flood risk, the city says, including the area south of Saint-Sauveur Street between Saint-Patrice and Sanscartier streets, among a handful of other streets that line the river.

Those living along the mouth of the Gatineau river and Ottawa River need to remain on alert, the city says. (City of Gatineau)

“The most at risk sector is along the mouth of the Gatineau River and Ottawa River,” said Denis Doucet, the city’s emergency measures coordinator.

An emergency co-ordination center has since been set up in the city.

Reliving the same nightmare

It’s the third time in six years that the city has been at risk of floods, with major flooding in 2017 and 2019.

For Bélisle, it’ll be her first time dealing with a natural disaster since being elected in November 2021. She said she’s trying to remain optimistic.

“I want to remind citizens that we, unfortunately, have experience with this. You will see us in your streets, especially along Cartier Street and in certain streets in Pointe-Gatineau. We will be visiting places that have been affected in the past, “she said.

Residents travel with a boat along a street adjacent to the Gatineau River during the devastating flooding of 2019. (Albert Leung / CBC)

Officials in the Outaouais outside of Gatineau have been on the alert since Friday, when the waters of the Gatineau River there reached critical levels.

The rising waters prompted the evacuation of the Foyer Père-Guinard long-term care home, where 68 residents live, the same day.

The facility sits on the Désert River, an offshoot of the Gatineau River. An anti-flood dike has been built around it.

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