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State of emergency in northern Ontario lakeside community due to rising water levels

Mitch and Donna Bujold moved to their Nellie Lake lot in 2018 for the lakefront view and access to the water, but in recent weeks, it seems the lake has been keen on accessing their property too.

Water levels began encroaching on their lakeside lawn in April, with the shoreline approaching their gazebo.

The Bujolds' gazebo flooded by Nellie Lake in Iroquios Falls as water levels continue to rise. May 29/23 (Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

"It just kept on creeping up, every single day, the water is getting higher," Mitch said.

"Plus the melting, it didn’t help, so the water kept on rising and rising."

Resisting the invading lake, the Bujolds piled on an estimated 300 sandbags provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. It resembles a makeshift trench holding the water at bay.

The rising water levels have also left some wildlife displaced, seeking refuge at the Bujold’s property.

"The beavers are coming across here, they’re coming up onto the driveway, they’re taking the trees," Donna said.

"We have the ducks that nest on the sandbags, basically."


Living in the unincorporated township of Aurora, the Bujolds said their basement sump pump is fighting the lake water off for now, but worry how long that will last.

The mayor of Iroquois Falls, Tory Delaurier, said septic beds and tanks in unincorporated properties are overflowing, contaminating the lake and potentially making his residents’ tap water on the opposite side of the lake unsafe.

A boil water advisory is in place and the area is under a state of emergency.

"If we did get another rainfall or high winds, it would compromise even more properties and more septic beds," Delaurier said.

"There’s even outhouses out there that are being compromised."

The mayor said agencies are investigating the cause of the flooding and preparing for an emergency meeting on Wednesday, to come up with an action plan.

Provincial agencies and police are using a local campground to access the lake.

"What we’ve had to do, so far, is just shut down our boat launch, so that no motorized boats can go on the water," said Tania Rondeau, owner of Cameron’s Beach Campground.

"We’re going to try to do what we can on our end to help everybody."

Other residents shared stories of flooded basements, where belongings and family memories were lost, along with land lost to the lake.

As the Bujolds cautiously watch their sandbag barricade, they hope the onslaught of water won’t last much longer.

"If it comes to October, November, when this thing freezes, we’re going to be in big trouble," Mitch said.

Meantime, Delaurier advises people to get their water tested by the Porcupine Health Unit by picking up a sampling kit and returning a tap water sample for testing.

He also urges people not to use the lake, for fear of provoking it further. Top Stories

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