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French River officials hope worst is behind them with flood

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Officials in the municipality of French River appear to be cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind them following a flood warning that’s been in place for almost a week now.

At least three roads are underwater and a few properties are under threat from where nearby waterways have spilled their banks.

“In terms of water levels, it seems like things are peaking right now,” CAO Marc Gagnon told councillors in an update Tuesday night.

“Lake Nipissing seems to be under control, it has pretty well reached the peak of the levels and we are still observing high water levels within Wolseley Bay which has peaked as well and is slightly on the decline. Dry Pine Bay is also sort of levelling off."

Gagnon said they saw a slight increase of about two cm in both of those areas from the rain on Tuesday.

"But with the rain being the lesser amount of rain being called for this week, we are being optimistic in that we can get things under control," he added.

"And then slowly maneuver Lake Nipissing back down to the proper levels and reducing the pressure on the French River at the same time.”

According to Gagnon’s research, Dry Pine Bay was pushing 634 cubic metres per second during the flood of 2019 and things are currently sitting at 546 cubic metres per second.

He credits a lot of the work to the volunteer firefighters and public works staff, who alongside Team Rubicon Canada, have been filling and laying out another 500 sandbags in low-lying areas.

The mantra has been to be proactive rather than reactive.

“So we’re going in there to help principal residences, not secondary sheds or any other garages or anything like that, just to make sure. It’s been working great, they have more work to do tomorrow. They’ve replenished our sandbags and another 200 is available,” he said.

Councillor Dean Wenborne sits on one of the watershed committees that involves the dams heading up to Lake Nipissing.

He said the situation was dire for those communities along the lakeshore.

“It’s kind of interesting that in our conference calls, that all around the lake, we got thanks here in French River for being willing to take some water to relieve them on the lake,” Wenborne said.

“I know it doesn’t make the people who are hurting here feel any better but that is the case and I think we did the right thing and they appreciated at the dam that we were saying we could take some added pain to relieve the situation because it was dangerous on the lake.”

The town has been putting up the Team Rubicon volunteers on the second floor of the arena.

“I think that’s great to have volunteers offer to do that, it’s a lot of hard work,” said Deputy Mayor Renee Carrier.

“I just want to go on the record to say how much as council we appreciate our volunteer firefighters and our staff that came out on the weekend, they were quite visible and the feedback that we’re getting from residents is one of appreciation,” said Mayor Gisele Pageau, who added they’re also grateful to the veterans who volunteer through Team Rubicon.

Council will get a recommendation to formally thank the volunteers of Team Rubicon once the situation is over.

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