By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — The Ottawa River was once again threatening to burst its banks this year.
Seasonal flooding in early and mid April wasn’t nearly as bad as 2017’s deluge. But that had changed by the end of the month, when the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority predicted that the Ottawa River could exceed 2017 levels. Two years ago, the Ottawa River rose two metres above normal levels in early May and 500 people were evacuated from their homes.
Three of Eastern Ontario’s Conservation Authorities — Mississippi Valley, Rideau Valley and South Nation — issued flood warnings for the last week of April for land along the Ottawa River from Pembroke to Hawkesbury. Total rainfall for April in the Ottawa area as of April 22 was 100 mm. The monthly average is 46 mm.
Flooding has already occurred on small pockets of land throughout Eastern Ontario. April 17 saw a river of water cover the main drag in the village of Pakenham, in Lanark County. Floodwaters trapped a car and blocked County Road 29 for a full day.
Kemptville-area cash crop farmer Brian Smith said one of his farms, a 27-acre plot at Kars, near North Gower, along Cranberry Creek, was under nine inches of water on April 22.
Fournier-area dairy farmer Andrew Wilkes said that about 320 acres of his land near the South Nation River was totally under water as of April 22. “It’s like a lake down there.” He’d almost had the land clear of flooding the week before; but then, a heavy rain hit on Good Friday and raised water levels right back up.
He was optimistic his land wouldn’t be under water for long. The land is sandy soil, so water doesn’t stick around. A sunny warm day helps, and April 22 delivered, with a projected high of 19 C and clear skies. Said Wilkes: “Get a nice day like this and it’s gone.”
Western Quebec saw the worst of the flooding last month. Gatineau called in the military. A 72-year-old Quebec woman died west of Ottawa on the Quebec side after her car plunged into waters that washed away a road. About 900 residents of various Quebec municipalities were evacuated as of April 23.