By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — As if the flooding in 2017 wasn’t bad enough, the Ottawa River did it again.
Heavy rainfall and snowmelt through spring saw seasonal flooding turn savage in Eastern Ontario. Flood waters in the Ottawa area finally started receding in early May. Water levels, however, remained high through the month: Eastern Ontario’s five conservation authorities maintained a flood watch from April 19 through to May 23. At its peak, the Ottawa River hit about 113 metres at Pembroke, about 50 centimetres higher than its peak in 2017, according to the Ottawa River Regulating Committee.
Some of the worst flooding was in late April: Almost 2,200 homes were flooded or at risk of flooding in the Ottawa-area, according to Statistics Canada. In Gatineau, Que., almost 3,800 were in the same boat. About 200 in the Ottawa area, including Gatineau, were evacuated from their homes.
Eastern Ontario’s farmland seems to have been largely spared. The lighthouse at Pembroke, in Renfrew County, was knocked down by floodwaters. The City of Pembroke declared a state of emergency in early May.
The provincial government announced disaster recovery assistance for numerous regions across Eastern Ontario last month. In the Ottawa River area, that includes Alfred and Plantagenet, Champlain township, the Clarence-Rockland area, the west end of the city through to Arnprior, and the eastern strip that runs into Cumberland.
The province also activated assistance for the eastern Kawartha Lakes area, near Four Mile Lake; around the Muskoka Lakes region near Gravenhurst, north of Kawartha Lakes; and further north, in the Parry Sound region. The deadline to apply is Sept. 4.
Residents at Wolfe Island, at Kingston, east to Iroquois, along the St. Lawrence River, saw water levels close to the 2017 record levels by the end of May.
Water levels — expressed in meters above sea level — broke records at Arnprior. Arnprior’s water level rose by two meters (or 6.5 feet) in April. Average April water levels are about 74 metres and they hit 76. In 2017 the town was just shy of 76 metres.
Water levels at Pembroke and Hawkesbury, both situated along the Ottawa River, also rose by two metres in April.