Torrential Rains Strand 200 Ontario Campers
Last week’s torrential rainfall cut a swath of destruction across parts of Ontario that will cost millions of dollars to repair, officials say.
The Outaouais was hammered by about 200 millimeters (7.8 inches) of rain Thursday and Friday (June 23-24), causing partial or full road washouts in more than 40 locations from Eardley in the west to Cantley in the east, and as far north as Lac Philippe, The Ottawa Citizen reported.
The washouts forced about 600 people to evacuate their properties in Gatineau, and as many as 200 campers to flee in the Lac Philippe area. The Wakefield Steam Train has been shut down for as long as four weeks, an event that could cost the millions in tourism revenue.
The storm also carved a canyon 18 meters (59 feet) deep into Highway 148, a main artery connecting Ottawa and Gatineau to the Pontiac; commuters will have to take a detour until the road is fixed.
In two days, the region got more than twice the amount of rainfall it would normally get in the month of June, according to Environment Canada. Eerily, the storms began on the anniversary of the earthquake that shook the region just last year.
Meanwhile, there were few happy campers in Gatineau Park, after heavy rains forced as many as 200 vacationers to leave the Lac Philippe campgrounds; five of the park’s beaches were closed.
A road leading into the campground at Lac Philippe and another to Lac Taylor collapsed on Friday; park staff rescued a few families by boat that evening, but most campers opted to stay overnight, said Renée Bellehumeur, senior manager of visitor services for the National Capital Commission. The road to Taylor Lake was repaired Saturday, but the road to the main campgrounds remained inaccessible until Sunday, when crews finished building a temporary bridge and reinforcing a service road to take the weight of tent trailers.
About 150 to 200 people were removed on Sunday; a handful who wanted to stay longer were relocated to a different part of the park.
“Unfortunately, we are not accepting new campers for a few days,” until a more permanent solution can be built, says Bellehumeur, adding that people who have already paid camping fees for this week will be reimbursed. Officials hope the area will be at least partly operational by the weekend, she added.
"We understand that for some people this will change their holiday schedule … We are trying our best to accommodate as many people as possible,” she said, adding that the canoe-camping sites at Lac La Peche are unaffected.