Mighty Ottawa brings Aylmer to her knees
Sunday afternoon, the battle to keep water away from this des Cèdrières Street home was lost. The family had been working day and night for over a week to stay in their home, keeping it dry. They finally made the decision to evacuate May 7 as the Ottawa River won the battle. In all of Gatineau, a total of 805 people left their homes voluntarily by Monday, May 8, with another 459 homes evacuated.
Some 842 people are under the care of the Red Cross. Between May 1 and May 8, over 283,000 sandbags were distributed. The city ran out on May 7, with more ordered from Winnipeg that day. At the distribution centres, volunteers scurried between filling bags, distributing them and stacking them around homes at risk of flooding. In some cases, the urgency was palpable, with volunteers rushing to build walls. Pumps worked around the clock to empty incoming water in homes within a range of the river. But water pressure outside basements on some occasions was impossible to combat. In one case, a Dorion Street home lost the struggle with the foundation walls caving in from the pressure outside the basement.
Councillors on the job
Aylmer’s councillors and electoral candidates worked on the ground around the clock over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday critical period. Businesses, too, generously pitched in. As the river rose Saturday, and sandbags were stuck at the Campeau Arena filling site, Home Hardware donated all the bags they had. 100 filled sand bags were immediately placed to protect homes. Restaurants and people brought food and water regularly to the volunteers.
Aylmer helping Pontiac
Pontiac volunteers had helped in Aylmer early in the rising water crisis, but the tables turned over the weekend. Aylmer residents rushed to help their Pontiac neighbours, with trucks and flatbeds as well as ready hands headed to the Luskville community centre May 7 and 8.