2019 Flood - One death, roads closed, army deployed

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Added: Wed, 04/24/2019 - 4:13pm
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A major washout on Laughren Road in Clarendon.

MRC PONTIAC & PONTIAC – With the onset of the spring freshet, the levels of local rivers are on the rise, putting many municipalities on high alert. Although no major problems were witnessed across the Pontiac the week of April 15, the weekend of April 20th saw snowmelt runoff and significant rainfall create water
levels exceeding the minor flood threshold, but remaining below those witnessed in May 2017.
The majority of municipalities near the Pontiac’s rivers asked their fire departments to be on standby and had sandbags and sand available to residents. Many roads were closed across the region because of washouts. 
The situation was the most severe in the Municipality of Pontiac where a state of emergency was declared on April 19, at least ten roads were closed, about 60,000 sandbags were distributed, and an elderly woman, Louise Séguin Lortie, was killed after she drove into a major washout on Bronson-Bryant Road in Quyon late in the evening of April 19 (see photo). Municipal staff were deployed the next morning to travel other local roads to ensure they weren’t dangerously compromised. 
“[Declaring a state of emergency] allows us to respond quickly to the needs of our citizens. We have also requested emergency support from the province,” said Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie. The MRC-des-Collines’ Public Security Service established a local “Emergency Coordination Centre” to better coordinate resources and assist citizens, April 18, and members of the Red Cross and CISSSO were also on site.
The Army visited Pontiac on April 20 to evaluate the situation and returned Sunday to sandbag around the municipal pumping station. Their priority will be protecting municipal property and infrastructure.
Pontiac stressed the battle is not yet over. “With warm temperatures [in the forecast] and the projected rainfall on Tuesday (April 23), the river is expected to rise again,” they said in an online notice, noting that volunteers were needed again to fill sandbags.
In Waltham, the municipality has contacted Public Security daily for updates and forecasts on the water levels. Additionally, the fire department has installed a measuring device in the river, which they monitor closely. In case of a rapid increase in water levels, the fire department will go door to door to inform residents and offer help as needed. A section of Black River Road is closed.
Gilles Dionne, Mansfield’s mayor, said his municipality is in frequent contact with Brookfield concerning the Coulonge River and Public Security for the Ottawa River. The Coulonge River was a big concern over the weekend given that the Ottawa River Regulating Committee (ORRC) predicted a rapid increase in its flow; from the 95 m3 per second witnessed on April 15 to as much as 560 m3 per second by April 22. In preparation, residents were advised to take necessary steps to avoid as much damage as possible, including removing objects from properties. Seasonal workers began making sandbags to have some ready in case problems arose.
The severity of the flooding is hard to predict, said the ORRC, although they are certain that flow volumes will be higher than average this year. “The magnitude of the spring flood largely depends on weather conditions that can only be predicted a few days in advance. We will be closely monitoring precipitation amounts and temperature increases throughout the spring freshet period as they may cause levels and flows to change rapidly.”
Monitoring of flood conditions can be viewed at  http://www.ottawariver.ca/river-levels-flows.php.