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Laurentian Valley residents prepare to leave homes as water rises


Residents of Laurentian Valley Township, Ontario, are trying to defend themselves against high water levels on the Ottawa River – and some are preparing to give up.

River levels near Lac Coulonge hit the all-time high on Sunday, and could climb another half-meter before reaching the peak later this week.

Andy Seguin's house at Sullivan's Point is surrounded by water and was bagged to keep it dry but he said it's getting difficult to stay ahead of the rising waters.

"Our neighbors on the side have four bombs and are feeling a bit overwhelmed by failing to keep up with the arrival of the water," he said.

Seguin said he's been standing still for a while, but if the water continues to rise and leave the roads to his house, he may be forced to leave.

"The decision for us is when our safety comes into play," he said.

I was planning to do this, but I think today is my last day.Randy Rae

Randy Rae has been working to protect his home in the township, located northwest of Ottawa for more than a week, but he said the rising waters make it increasingly difficult.

He said on Sunday he would be transferring his belongings to the highest point of his home. Once that's done, it will go away – and wait for the best.

"I was planning to do this, but I think today is my last day," he said. "Looks like there's nothing you can do."

Help on the way

Mayor Steve Bennett said on Sunday that there were 38 homes at risk in the community.

He said the county is offering sandbags and declared a state of emergency for more aid.

"We're trying to do as much as we can for them. We're trying to protect them as much as they can," Bennett said.

But with water levels rising more than half a meter in just two days, Bennett said it has been difficult for some residents to keep up.

"You're going to do as much as you can, but some residents gave up," he said. "Just overloaded the houses."

With water levels predicted to peak in the area on Monday, Bennett said he expects the military to arrive sooner or later.

Patrick Garbutt said more homes in the community could have been saved if resources had been sent to Fitzroy Harbor earlier. (Andrew Lee / CBC)

Port of Fitzroy

Downstream in Fitzroy Harbor, in the rural west end of Ottawa, Nancy Rebertz also decided to leave her house because of the flood.

She said she worked for days bagging and keeping bombs running, but eventually had to give up.

"You can only fight for so long," she said. "I do not want to give up, but it gets to the point where you can not do it anymore."

Patrick Garbutt, who also lives in the community, said he would like to have seen more volunteers and more targeted community help earlier.

"We could have saved some houses we lost yesterday," he said Sunday.

The community made an urgent call for volunteers over the weekend, worried that the city was not directing enough resources in its own way.

Garbutt said the fight is not over, and he hopes people will continue to come out to help.

"I want to make sure we get enough volunteers to help, because we have not been through the crisis yet."

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