160 military members deploy to cottage country in response to flooding
Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019 1:07PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 30, 2019 7:06PM EDT
Communities in central Ontario's flood-ravaged cottage country worked to stave off more damage while bracing for heavy rain expected this week.
On Tuesday Mayor Graydon Smith said levels in the Muskoka River and Lake Muskoka have either crested or have begun to recede.
“The North Branch of the Muskoka River has stabilized and is slowly receding. The South Branch of the Muskoka River and water levels in Lake Muskoka have crested, and we are currently monitoring weather forecasts as potential future rain and wind could impact levels in the area.”
A special weather statement covering much of central Ontario calls for between 25 and 30 additional millimetres of rain on Wednesday, placing potential new strains on the handful of communities that have already declared states of emergency.
Smith said the looming prospect of more heavy rain is a daunting one for a watershed system that's already nearly at full capacity.
"It takes some time for the watershed to react," he told reporters. "There's a little bit of capacity now for new water introduced to it ... but what (the rain) does do again is delay the extent of recovery. So we're hoping that we don't see as much rain as is forecast."
The town currently has 15 closed roads due to the flooding and recently opened another 15, but Smith said this could change as conditions change.
Bracebridge declared an emergency last week and on Sunday military members arrived to provide aid, and Smith said more are on the way.
In total, 160 Canadian Armed Forces soldiers will fill and deliver sandbags while helping with emergency evacuations as needed.
"We were very pleased to see support from our Canadian military," Smith said. "We appreciate it greatly, and you're making a profound difference to the folks here in Bracebridge."
A drinking water advisory issued by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit remains in place for those consuming well water, but municipal water sources have not been contaminated by the flooding, Smith confirmed.
Bracebridge was one of three municipalities in the Muskoka District to declare a state of emergency after spring runoff, and heavy rainfalls drove water levels to historic highs.
The district declared its own state of emergency for the whole area in addition to the local ones in place in Bracebridge, Huntsville and Muskoka Lakes Township. The community of Minden Hills, east of the Muskoka area, also declared a flooding emergency.
- With files from The Canadian Press/Michelle McQuigge