Message from the Mayor: After the floods

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Mayor Christa Lowry
May 3, 2019

While our neighbours in the City of Ottawa and Renfrew County continue to face high water levels, both Mississippi Lake and the Mississippi River have been receding steadily since last weekend. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has downgraded the Flood Warnings in both areas to Flood Watches at this time.

Assistance, Recovery & Cleanup

I requested that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing activate the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontario program in our area. It has been confirmed that the Provincial Disaster Assessment team will be visiting our area to assess the damage.

I’d like to remind residents that those on wells and septic should not drink their water until flood waters have receded and they have tested their wells. Testing kits are free and available at the Municipal Office at 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte, during office hours.

A reminder that sandbags and materials that have come into contact with flood waters are considered contaminated waste. For information on locations and pickup dates please visit the website to see the Mississippi Mills May 2, 2019 Flood Update under the News and Public Notices tab.

Volunteers

Volunteers have done a tremendous job supporting residents in flood-impacted areas. We have had hundreds of volunteers come forward to help bag sand and protect their neighbours’ property – thank you! I would also like to thank the many local businesses that have stepped up and offered resources as well as the members of staff and Council who have supported these efforts. Keep in mind, volunteer assistance is also needed with the cleanup efforts. If you would like to help, please send your name, phone number and availability to town@mississippimills.ca. All abilities are needed for cleanup!

Declarations of Emergencies

I’ve received a number of questions about whether a State of Emergency should have been declared in Mississippi Mills due to the severity of the flooding being experienced in some areas. For flooding, a State of Emergency would be declared in situations where there are threats to public safety, threats to critical public infrastructure that are beyond our capacity or if municipal authorities could not meet the demand for services such as providing enough sandbag to residents. In terms of resources, declaring a State of Emergency would not permit the municipality (or the Armed Forces) to assist in protecting private property beyond providing sandbags and sand for residents to use. It would permit me as the Mayor to force evacuations, however.

Sand and bags were available at no cost to all residents of the Mississippi Mills and we were fortunate to have many volunteers step forward to assist as well. Flooding has not impacted critical public infrastructure in a way to cause risk to public safety. Staff continually assessed water levels while flows were increasing and continue to do so to ensure public safety. Mississippi Mills has been in contact with neighbouring municipalities, Lanark County and the Province throughout the flooding event. The Fire Chief and I have regularly conducted wellness checks in areas that are heavily impacted with a focus on residents who may be more vulnerable. No municipality in the Mississippi Valley Watershed has declared a State of Emergency through this flooding event.

Please note that while the situation did not require Mississippi Mills to declare a State of Emergency, many individual homeowners have experienced significant damage to their personal property.

A State of Emergency does not have to be declared for property owners to qualify for Disaster Recovery Assistance funding from the Province of Ontario. As mentioned above, I have submitted a request to the province and we are waiting for next steps. The Provincial Disaster Assessment Team will first determine if areas in Mississippi Mills will be “activated” to allow residents to access provincial funding. Further information about the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program will be provided in the coming days as we receive more information from the Province and the Provincial Disaster Assessment Team.

Christa Lowry
Mayor of Mississippi Mills