Nearly 1,000 Renfrew County Homes Impacted By Flooding

We're not out of the woods yet.

That was the message this morning about the devastating spring floods across Renfrew County, which have prompted a county-wide State of Emergency and seven locally-declared states of emergency at the town and township level.

Community leaders, emergency responders and the military came together for the first time Friday morning to share some details about the local scope of the disaster, during a news conference at the County administration headquarters in Pembroke.

The Numbers

Officials say almost 1,000 homes across Renfrew County, both permanent and seasonal, are impacted by flood waters.

More than 100 people have been displaced, mainly in Laurentian Valley, Whitewater Region and Horton Township.

However, this peaked at closer to 150 during the peak of the flooding.

66 community paramedics have put in 792 hours of flood response, and have performed 820 wellness checks on residents, travelling over 15,000 kilometres in the process.

Renfrew County Director of Emergency Services Michael Nolan says even though the water levels have dropped this week in some areas, it’s not time for anyone to let down their guard.

"I can't stress enough that there are so many variables such as rain, wind and the northern waters coming down that can very easily cause that to jump back up", Nolan told Star 96.7.

"We're going to likely get back up to above what we've seen on certain stretches of the rivers, in the coming days;  knowing that on May 7 the northern waters are going to start to pass through the County, we need to watch that very quickly", Nolan added.

Military Response

Nearly 350 soldiers, mostly from Garrison Petawawa, continue to work on the ground on the flood response locally and will be here until the emergency is over.   Lieutenant Colonel Kris Reeves says it’s been challenging but critical work.

"It's really hard to describe that first feeling when the soldiers are recalled to the base, immediately pack their equipment, get their orders to deploy, and show up in a neighbourhood that's completely under water", Lt Col Reeves told Star 96.7.

"My soldiers are deployed around the world; this unit just got back from Ukraine last year.  And, it still causes them to pause - even the most experienced ones - because they know that's a home.  There are moms, dads, kids, and pets".

The military has said it will be on the ground as long as needed. 

More than 11,000 soldiers are on flood response across Ontario.

Provincial Government Response

Municipal affairs Minister Steve Clark, who also attended the Friday briefing in Pembroke, says the priority right now is making sure flood victims in Renfrew County have access to aid programs and other forms of help. 

He also expects to activate disaster aid in even more flood hit areas of the province in the weeks to come.

"We're still dealing with a number of very serious situations", Clark told Star 96.7.

"We've already declared here in Renfrew County, and in Bracebridge and Hunstville, but there are many more communities that are in very serious situations", Clark added.

No Damage Tally Yet

Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy, who surveyed the damage from a military helicopter yesterday, says they still can’t even put a dollar figure on the damage.

"One of the questions I've been asked is, can you quantify the amount of damage?", Murphy said.

"I can't, and after seeing it from the air yesterday, I'm really loathe to put a number to it".

River Levels

Meanwhile the Ottawa River levels aren’t expected to peak in the Pembroke area until next week… and will likely rise more in the days to come.  They’ve already peaked downstream but officials say they’ll remain high and could fluctuate up and down in the next week or two.