High water levels have prompted several communities in northeastern Ontario to declare a state of emergency.
On Thursday, both the Municipality of West Nipissing and the City of Temiskaming Shores both made the declaration. A state of emergency was declared in the Town of Mattawa earlier this week.
Kurtis Romanchuk, a water resources engineer with the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority says it’s been a bad year for flooding.
He says with heavy rain in the forecast, it’s hard to say what will happen in the next few days.
“So in the Temiskaming-area, this is kind of the peak of the snowmelt now. So we’re just seeing what is going to come through the system,” he said.
“Hopefully following the next few days on the Ottawa River, we’ll start to see the snowmelt from the north decrease.”
He says water levels on Lake Nipissing are still rising and are expected to peak in another week or two.
He says water levels on the Ottawa River near Mattawa are almost reaching historically high levels recorded back in 1960.
In West Nipissing, several roads are currently under water or at risk of washing out. The municipality says it has started advising residents in affected areas of road closures and their options to evacuate.
Provincial police say in Temiskaming Shores, rising water levels and ice building up on shore have closed Fleming Drive.
Flood warnings in place
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says flood warnings remain in place for several areas, including North Bay, French River and Temagami.
Derrick Luetchford, a partnership specialist with the ministry, says they’re trying to manage the flows out the Temagami River using dams.
“Primary dams for the Nipissing and the French River area controlled by the federal government and they’re communicating with us regularly,” he said.
“So what they want to do is minimize impacts on any infrastructure, municipal or private.”
In Timmins, a flood warning issued by the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority remains in place.
Conservation authorities in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie have issued flood outlook statements for those areas.
Several municipalities are offering sandbags so residents can work to protect their property.
Police and conservation authorities are asking people to avoid banks near water as they could be slippery. People are also asked to stay off roads that are closed due to high water levels.
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is also cautioning people to be careful when dealing with flood water.
“Residents who are not connected to a municipal drinking water system should be aware that overland flooding may impact the safety of their drinking water,” the health unit stated in a release.
“Those residents, whose drinking water may be compromised, should seek an alternate source of drinking water until flood waters have receded and their water source has been tested and demonstrated to be safe.”