Flood preparations underway as river levels rise in Gatineau

Residents of Gatineau prepare for possible flooding along the Gatineau River. (Jeremie Charron/CTV News Ottawa)

Flood prep is underway in Gatineau as water levels along the Gatineau River are set to rise; there are positive signs though even with more rain on the way.

It is a far too familiar scene for many Gatineau residents who were hit hard during flooding in 2017 and 2019. On Thursday, many spent the day laying sandbags, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

Eighty-four-year-old Raymon Bigras lives in Pointe-Gatineau. His daughter and son-in-law spent the day laying sandbags in anticipation of the third flood in six years here.

"You put the bags cross to try and stop the water from coming through, but it's pretty hard not to go through," said Marc Charron, Bigras son-in-law.

"He doesn't want to leave this place, he's born here and he wants to stay here," his daughter Joanne said.

It’s nothing new for Bigras – he was born during a flood in 1937 and has lived through many more since.

"We're in the unknown right now…something is coming but we don't know what, and we don't know how much. Will it happen fast? Slow? We don't know," he said.

The region of Pointe-Gatineau was hit hard both in 2017 and 2019, but Thursday the city of Gatineau provided a positive update.

"At this point, water levels are stable, according to Hydro Quebec the forecasted increase in the level of the Gatineau River is estimated at 40 cm at the Alonso Bridge, although this is encouraging news, we must remain vigilant," said Gatineau’s Mayor France Belisle during a press conference Thursday.

Water has already been released from the Baskatong Reservoir, which has reached capacity. Rain in the forecast could change the situation quickly.

Sand bagging stations have been set up throughout Gatineau to help residents.

"Come get some bags, if you're not prepared, you’ll get flooded," said volunteer Yves Legare.

On Rue Moreau near St. Louis Street, one of the hardest hit areas in the last flood, residents aren't taking any chances.

Cheryl Frech is building a three-foot wall all the way down the street.

"We're going all the way to St. Louis, because we have some neighbours that are older and they can't do it," she said.

Recent flooding in the area is still fresh in their minds.