Flooding in Ontario’s cottage country forces residents from homes
Published Sunday, April 21, 2013 10:18AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 21, 2013 11:15PM EDT
Sandbagging efforts are underway in Ontario’s beleaguered cottage country as floodwaters forced residents from their homes.
Heavy rains and rapidly melting snow have washed out roads, flooded homes and destroyed businesses.
A state of emergency was declared in multiple communities in east and central Ontario including Bracebridge, Huntsville and Kawartha Lakes.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources has also issued flood warnings for parts of northern Ontario, including the areas of North Bay and Parry Sound.
In the town of Bracebridge, residents are preparing for the worst as water levels are expected to peak late Sunday evening or early Monday morning.
According to Rick Maloney, the town’s deputy mayor, officials are anticipating water levels to crest at approximately 10 p.m.
“We’re in constant discussion with the Ministry of Natural Resources to get a better handle of the flow but we do know that the peak is yet to make its way through the Bracebridge area,” Maloney told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
Town officials are providing free sand bags to its residents and are advising them to "assess their individual situation based on current water levels and make arrangements to leave their properties as rising water levels are anticipated."
The Bracebridge Sportsplex and Oakley Village Square have been opened for use as a temporary shelter.
Mayor Graydon Smith said there have been no reports of injuries so far but there is concern of flash flooding if the water doesn’t recede.
Nearby in the town of Huntsville, power has been shut off for safety reasons in many of the affected zones.
Initial estimates on Friday pegged the damage from the flooding at more than $1 million. The region received 50 mm of rainfall Thursday night through Friday morning, causing “massive” destruction of municipal infrastructure.
"Municipal staff and services along with emergency services are currently working on managing this situation," Kelly Pender, the town’s chief administrative officer, said in a news release on Saturday.
The town is also dealing with a three-and-a-half metre sinkhole that opened up on Hwy. 11.
A state of emergency was also declared on Saturday in Kawartha Lakes, which is experiencing its worst flooding since 1998.
The city issued a statement advising residents to evacuate areas near Burnt River, Black River and Gull River watersheds.
Rescue teams on boats moved in to the affected zone Sunday, helping residents who were trapped in their homes due to rising water levels.
A 70-year-old woman who relies on supplemental oxygen was pulled to safety from her home when the local river swelled.
More than a dozen homes were evacuated in a subdivision near Burnt River, which is located about 40 kilometres north of Lindsay, Ont. Water began rising there more than 48 hours ago.
A Toronto couple spent their Sunday sandbagging their cottage to protect it from the rising water.
“Our house is pretty high but we just have a low spot, so maybe a dozen or half a dozen sandbags and we’re OK for another two feet,” said John Bukovec.
Some residents have said they are waiting out the flooding, but it’s unclear when the water will begin to recede.
"We're not sure whether the water level is going to rise at this point anymore but it's already at a significantly high level," said Kawartha Lakes spokesperson Brenda Stonehouse.
According to officials, water levels are expected to continue rising in flood-prone areas, including downtown Huntsville and the Big East River.
Residents are being reminded to stay clear of open water, creeks and rivers.
With a report from CTV’s John Musselman and with files from The Canadian Press