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Canadian capital braces for flood as heavy rain returns

 Canadian capital braces for flood as heavy rain returns

By Julie Gordon and Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's capital city of Ottawa readied on Friday for heavy flooding as rains were set to further engorge the Ottawa River, threatening hundreds of homes amid a disaster that has already led to evacuations and one death in neighbouring Quebec.

Light armoured vehicles carrying Canadian troops rolled into an already waterlogged community west of the city's downtown around midday on Friday, with soldiers helping residents load sandbags into trucks and boats to shore-up their properties.

Across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, a number of roads were closed and dozens of residents were forced from their homes, with the city warning that water levels could exceed massive spring flooding in 2017, which caused more than C$230 million ($171 million) in insured damages in Ontario and Quebec.

The looming floods prompted the City of Ottawa to declare a state of emergency on Thursday, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Canadian Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pledging support to the city on Friday.

"This is a broad-spread problem. We are working diligently and in close collaboration with all provincial and municipal authorities ... to be as effective as we possibly can be in keeping Canadians safe," Goodale told reporters.

Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning early Friday that Ottawa and Gatineau could see up to 35 mm (1.4 inches) of rain over 24 hours, noting the ground was already saturated.

This follows days of flooding in neighbouring Quebec, where nearly 5,500 homes have been affected and more than 1,000 people evacuated, according to Urgence Quebec. One woman died after her car was caught in road washout caused by rising waters.

Separately, surging waters on the Rouge River in Quebec continued to threaten a hydroelectric dam at Bell Falls, forcing the evacuation of some 250 people, though a Hydro Quebec spokesman said the structure was still holding.

"If the dam were to give way, people in the area would have less than an hour to get out of the way of that surging water," said Goodale. "The wise thing would be to get out in advance."

Provincial and federal authorities said that the severity of the floods, just two years after the 2017 flood, could be attributed to climate change.

In the east coast province of New Brunswick, floodwaters were starting to stabilise and even drop, but a forecast for more rain prompted concerns the situation could again change.

($1 = 1.3450 Canadian dollars)

(Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2019 01:06:39 IST