--Flood level monitoring, city says everything’s normal for now
As winter turns to spring and the snow gradually melts away, the city of Gatineau is said to be constantly monitoring water levels in locations at risk of flooding and recently announcing that everything is stable and normal for the time being. According to a press release issued by the city on March 17, current climate conditions are favourable to reducing flood risks this season.
Noting that local dam managers assure their responsibility in managing basins and reservoirs, the press release stated that they have all confirmed that no issues have arisen so far. It added that the city is prepared, with the services and tools in place to anticipate and intervene rapidly if needed. Along with 35,000 sand bags already filled, the city currently has another 200,000 empty ones in stock and is willing to purchase more if required. The city also owns two bagging machines with increased loading capacity.
The city monitors water levels and meteorological conditions in collaboration with the Québec Ministry of public safety, and it is currently conducting precise readings of flood risks in every sector of Gatineau. The city also works with various other partners, including the Quebec Ministry of municipal affairs and housing, the Centre intégré de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), and the Canadian Red Cross to put in place actions to mitigate flood-related damages. The city owns seven hydrometric installations and also has access to two of Environment Canada’s installations.
Residents are invited to consult local water levels online via the city’s website - https://www.gatineau.ca/portail/default.aspx?p=avis_importants_alertes_urgences/crue_printaniere.
Municipal service teams have altered their flood intervention plans due to COVID-19; however, in the case of a crisis, the provincial government’s recommended safety measures still apply. While the city plans to do all it can to support riverside residents, it stated that its level of service could be considerably limited compared to previous years, to ensure respecting COVID-19 safety measures. It clarified that support services for victims and riverside residents, if needed, should be conducted remotely as much as possible. Calling on residents to be as autonomous as they can, the city encourages people to prepare in advance and to find a plan B for housing in case of evacuation. It added that residents are responsible for their safety and that of their families, as well as for their belongings.
As a safety tip, residents are reminded to check their gutters to see if water is flowing away from their home at a sufficient distance, and to check the state of water pumps and floor drains. People are advised not to store valuables or important documents in the basement, and they are encouraged to have first-aid kits ready at all times, stocked with essentials for each family member.
For information on what to include in a 72-hour first-aid kit, people can consult the website https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-en.aspx. Continually solidifying its flood-mitigation approach, a number of crises in recent years have given Gatineau the resilience to plan and act more efficiently in response to spring flooding. Among other things, spring flooding is typically caused by the quantity of water in snow when it melts, high early-spring temperatures causing snow to melt quickly, and cumulative rainfall.
While there’s no considerable flood risk to worry about for now, Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said it’s still too early to breathe a sigh of relief. “Our municipal service teams have been working on the file for numerous weeks already and have adapted their intervention plan to the context of the pandemic we’re living in,” Pedneaud-Jobin said in the press release.