Spring Flood 2022: Gatineau was ready for the worst, flooding averted
With the annual spring flood approaching, Gatineau had prepared in advance this year to avoid flooding and damage to its infrastructure and residents' properties. Since May 23, 2022, authorities have been closely monitoring local water levels and the rivers along the city. The areas at risk are known and are currently in neutral monitoring mode, after a week that started in emergency.
Mayor France Bélisle invited the media on May 26, 2022 for a press conference with Sophie Brochu, CEO of Hydro-Quebec, Denis Doucet, Emergency Measures Coordinator, as well as some of her colleagues from the City Council, including Tiffany-Lee Norris Parent and Louis Sabourin, whose districts of Touraine and Limbour, which border the Gatineau River, are affected by the flood threat.
At the press conference held at the Alonzo-Wright Bridge, the Mayor and experts in attendance provided the latest updates on water levels and continued to encourage residents in the area to pick up sandbags, courtesy of the City, at the various collection points and to build a dike around their property.
The rainy days of mid-May and the drawdown of the Baskatong Reservoir had authorities worried enough to ask boat, dock and watercraft owners, on May 24, to remove their equipment from the water. Although the concern was palpable, it appears that water levels in the Gatineau River have dropped enough that the City and its stakeholders are back in surveillance mode and lifted the dike construction notice on May 30.
Some municipalities in the Gatineau Valley have unfortunately seen the river overflow into their communities. Certain areas of the cities of Maniwaki and Gracefield are currently flooded and many streets and roads are still closed to traffic.
Overview of the situation:
March 17, 2022: The City of Gatineau officially announces the start of the annual observation of water level fluctuations in the region.
May 23, 2022: An increase in water levels due to rapid snowmelt, weather conditions and the accumulation of water in the Baskatong Reservoir, which is to be released gradually on a daily basis, prompted the City to hold a press conference at which it was announced that the Emergency Measures Coordination Centre (CCMU) was officially opening its doors and phone lines. Gatineau advises its citizens that sandbags and bulk sand will be distributed and available at designated pick-up points. Dikes along some roads (such as the section of A-50 near Lac-Leamy) will be erected.
May 24, 2022: The City of Gatineau asks boat, dock and watercraft owners to remove their equipment from the Gatineau River. Continuing their constant monitoring, authorities also announced that additional pumps would be put in place in certain areas to relieve the sanitation system, as well as the preventive opening of a disaster center.
May 25, 2022: At a press conference, Gatineau officials, including the Mayor and Emergency Measures Coordinator Denis Doucet, reiterated that the City was closely monitoring the situation and that the sandbagging operation was well underway. The Limbour, Touraine and Pointe-Gatineau districts, all of which border the Gatineau River, have been identified as the areas most at risk of flooding.
May 26, 2022: Mayor France Bélisle holds a press conference near the Alonzo-Wright Bridge with Sophie Brochu, CEO of Hydro-Québec.
May 27, 2022: The City of Gatineau announces that the forecasts of their experts and the weather conditions are such that we can now switch from "emergency" mode to "surveillance" mode. Citizens are encouraged to maintain their dikes.
May 28, 2022: Gatineau remains in surveillance mode, despite some precipitations from the previous day.
May 29, 2022: According to authorities, water levels seem to be stabilizing. Citizens are encouraged to maintain their dikes. Official sand bags pickup days were announced for June 2 and 9, 2022 (Thursday).
May 30, 2022: Following an official drop in water levels, citizens can now dismantle their dikes and operations are back to normal. The City of Gatineau continues to monitor the region's waterways and remains vigilant.
Photo credit: Sonia Roy
Photo caption: From left to right: Sophie Brochu, France Bélisle, Denis Girouard, Louis Sabourin (blue), Daniel Champagne and Tiffany-Lee Norris Parent.