Water rushes through the Carillon Hydro electric dam Thursday, April 25, 2019 in Carillon, Quebec. Authorities have issued an evacuation alert further up river warning that the Belle Chutes dam is at risk of failing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Ford links floods to climate change, says situation ‘just rips your heart out’

The Ottawa River is just one of several rivers and lakes overflowing this week

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he believes climate change is among the reasons eastern Ontario homeowners are trying to save their homes from flooding for the second time in three years.

Ford was in the rural west end of Ottawa Friday morning, touring flooded areas along the Ottawa River, where officials are warning a new rain storm will make water levels rise rapidly over the next few days, likely exceeding the levels seen during a 2017 flood.

Ford said that when you see the affected people face-to-face, it “just rips your heart out.”

“These folks can’t go through this every single year,” he said.

He said local officials desperately need volunteers to help fill and distribute sandbags.

The Ottawa River is just one of several rivers and lakes overflowing this week, forcing thousands of Canadians from their homes in Ontario, Quebec, southern Manitoba and New Brunswick, where the Saint John River is experiencing a major flood for the second year in a row.

In Quebec, officials said Friday morning 3,148 homes are already underwater and another 2,305 are surrounded by it, with 1,111 people out of their residences. In New Brunswick, 84 roads are closed because of flooding, including a portion of the TransCanada Highway.

READ MORE: Canadians can expect an abrupt transition to spring

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency because of flooding Thursday, with another 20 mm to 50 mm of rain forecast to fall Friday and Saturday. A forecast by the interprovincial committee that regulates water levels in the Ottawa River says all that rain could increase its level near Parliament Hill by nearly a metre within a few days. Paths behind Parliament are already underwater.

Residents in several small communities on the eastern and western edges of Ottawa are sandbagging to keep their homes dry. About 400 soldiers have been deployed to the Ottawa area to help sandbag and assist with other flood operations.

Military members were deployed to Gatineau, Que., and in New Brunswick earlier this week.

Gatineau mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said Friday morning that he expects river levels in his region to peak by Monday or Tuesday. But because snow melt from the north has not yet reached the area, he said water levels could remain at their peak for two weeks.

Pedneaud-Jobin said that, unlike Ottawa’s mayor, he has the power to invoke emergency measures on his own without formally declaring a state of emergency.

So far, he said, he has ordered up to $1 million in supplies and equipment to help residents affected by the flooding.

There are also flood warnings in several other areas of Ontario, including cottage country near Bracebridge, Ont., where lakes are going over their banks. Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith asked cottage owners not to come to their properties to check for damage this weekend, because there are a lot of roads closed. He is worried people will put themselves in harm’s way trying to get to properties.

“Don’t try and be a hero,” he said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Canadian troops deployed to flood zones in Quebec and N.B.

The rising Red River in southern Manitoba has forced some road closures and a small number of evacuations near the community of St. Jean Baptiste. Earlier predictions for major flooding between the U.S. border and Winnipeg haven’t come to pass because of less snowfall than expected in April and a slower than expected spring melt.

While touring flooded areas of Gatineau earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said communities across Canada have to be prepared for the impact of climate change, needing to adapt and mitigate knowing floods like this are happening more often.

Ford said Friday he does not disagree.

“They say it’s 100-year storms — well it’s a few years later and we’re back in the same boat,” Ford said. “Something is going on and we have to be conscious of it.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs are both talking about relocating homeowners permanently away from flood-prone areas. Ford said he is willing to sit down with the communities to talk about what is needed to protect their homes or offer compensation to move to higher ground, but didn’t say what Ontario might be looking at doing yet.

The Ontario government asked for federal help Thursday and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that will come.

Officials in Quebec are also keeping a close eye on a hydroelectric dam, on a tributary of the Ottawa River west of Montreal, that’s at risk of failing.

The Chute-Bell dam has reached “millennial” water levels, meaning a flood that happens once every 1,000 years, but Hydro-Quebec says it’s confident the structure is solid.

Simon Racicot, the utility’s director of production and maintenance, told reporters Thursday that “we are entering into an unknown zone right now — completely unknown.”

—with files from Terry Pedwell and Kristy Kirkup

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tragedy leads to ‘Hope’ for Masters family

Campbell River mother and her sister start outreach group following daughter’s death

Campbell River RCMP respond to complaints of animals in hot vehicles or needing water

Police warn of animal cruelty charges but caution against taking the law into your own hands

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

Stone re-joins Campbell River Storm as head coach/GM

Team also hires former player as associate coach/assistant general manager

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Most Read