Volume 12 Week 5

Sunday, Jan. 20


Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





(Updcated 12:30 a.m., May 6)
Rising flood waters threaten homes on
Leo Lane

By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star

Dan Larrivée and his wife Sahondrina can still manage a smile as a pump works overtime keeping the rising flood water out of their riverfront home on Leo Lane. Fred Sherwin/Photo

As the rain continues to fall in the National Capital Region, residents on Leo Lane, outside Cumberland Village, are fighting an ongoing battle against the rising flood waters and holding their own thanks to a small army of volunteers.

The Ottawa River first started to crest the bank outside Dan Larrivée's home about 10 days ago, but after a couple of days it stopped and the water began to recede ever so slightly.

That was last Sunday. On Monday the rain returned and so did the water. It slow creeping up his backyard toward the house. At the same time water began inundating a channel that bends around a small point at the end of Leo Lane where Michel Potvin has a house. Both men already had some sand bags in place to protect against the earlier flooding.

At 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, Larrivée was making the rounds refueling his pumps when he heard the water rushing through a breach in the sand bag wall at his neighbour's house owned by real estate agents Genevieve Landry and Chris Blenkiron.

"It was like a river. I honestly didn't know what to do. I was kind of confused like I was in a dream. I wasn't sure whether I should wake everyone up or not," recalls Larrivée.

By morning, Larivée's six foot crawl space was filled with three feet of water. Blenkiron and Landry's crawl space was also flooded with about three feet of water and Potvin's crawl space was almost completely filled.

The water had breached the bank of the channel and had completely inundated the area between their homes and East Shore Road, which runs between Leo Lane and Ottawa Road 174.

An unoccupied house sits surrounded by water on Leo Lane. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Landry's son David Desmarais said the flooding took them totally by surprise.

"Our first thought, when the water came up two weeks ago, was that it wasn't going to get any worse, and it's actually got a lot worse. It hasn't slowed down at all. In fact, it's come up about six inches from yesterday and were expecting it to come up another foot over the weekend," said Desmarais.

Word of the flooding got out through social media and within hours emergency crews showed up with additional sand bags and pumps. All three Leo Lane residents were able to get their crawl spaces pumped out, but the rain didn't let up, and neither did the water.

Larrivée has been running three pumps non-stop. That means having to refuel them every 60-90 minutes during the day, and every two and a half to three hours at night.

"I sleep for two and half hours, get up, fill them with gas, then go back to sleep for another two and a half hours before I have to get up to do it again," says Larrivée. "I've been doing that for 10 days now. It's a full-time job."

Chris Blenkiron has been sharing pumping duties with his stepson David. He bought the house with his wife four years ago it was an ideal location on the banks of the Ottawa River.

"We knew that the water would come up in the spring, but we never imagined anything close to this," said Blenkiron. "We had it under pretty good control on the river side, but then it crept in behind us. "

Like Larrivée, Blenkiron has to constantly fill up his pumps, or risk having them shutting down and the water returning.

"I try to time it for every hour, hour and a half max. I get up, come out, put on the hip-waders and fill them up," said Blenkiron. "At the same time we're real estate agents and life has to go on, so were counting on the good graces of our clients to have patience with us."

The residents of Leo Lane are also counting on a small army of volunteers who have come from far and wide to help protect their homes. They started showing up from Cumberland, Rockland, Cheny, Plantagenet and other communities on Thursday morning after seeing images of the flooding posted on Facebook.

Volunteers fill sand bags used to help prevent the rising Ottawa River from flooding the homes on Leo Lane. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Among the volunteers who were on hand to help fill up sand bags on Friday was Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP Francis Drouin, who praised the effort of hs fellow workers.

"It shows that in time of need the community really comes together. Filling sand bags is a community effort, it's not a one man, or a one woman show," said Drouin. "I'm really happy to see so many people here... kids and families. It's pretty amazing."

Desmarais echoed the sentiments of the other Leo Lane residents in thanking the volunteers, many of whom are compete strangers.

"We're so blessed to have the outpouring of help from the community," said Desmarais. "We asked for a miracle and our friends, family and strangers, people we've never met, came her today to help us. These people are real heroes. They're our heroes."

Larrivée broke down in tears when he tried to express his gratitude for the help they've received.

"If I could I would tell them, 'Thank you for very much'," said Larrivée. "I didn't have a chance to meet everyone and thank them personally. We were too busy working. I wish I could thank each and everyone of them, but hopefully they understand how grateful we are."

The rain is expected to continue through the weekend, further increasing the height of the river and threatening the homes on Leo Lane. Larivée, Potvin and Blenkiron know they have an uphill battle ahead of them, but they aren't about to throw in the towel just yet. With the continued help of friends, family and total strangers they hope to keep the water at bay until it finally subsides.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)


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