As floods threaten to drown Ottawa’s neighbourhoods, an evangelical organization whose Canadian base resides in Calgary has rushed to help.
Samaritan’s Purse has, so far, sent five independent workers to assist Ottawa’s residents, and it’s currently assessing the need for more individuals to join its relief efforts.
According to Environment Canada, 38.3 mm of rain fell at the Ottawa International Airport on Thursday, but some parts of the city experienced more intense downpours that left streets, parking lots and basements flooded. The Experimental Farm was hit with more than 77 mm of rain.
Rolf Campbell, a weather historian who gathers statistics to generate alerts and forecasts, said Thursday’s thunderstorm was the longest since August 2018, when a thunderstorm lasted for more than three hours, and the second longest in “modern record-keeping,” which he said goes back 11 years.
Looking at Experimental Farm data, he said Thursday was also the eighth-rainiest day on record.
Beth Gooding, director of the City of Ottawa’s public safety service, said in a memo Thursday that, at the peak of the storm, Hydro Ottawa reported 24,000 customers without power.
In a memo to the mayor and members of the council, Gooding said the flooding impacts were “severe” for some residents, despite there being no flood-related injuries reported.
Gooding said Ottawa’s 3-1-1 service had received around 130 calls related to basement flooding.
Frank King, Samaritan’s Purse’s media spokesperson, said its workers mainly help residents during the aftermath of floods when they visit basements and remove the materials affected by excess water, spraying the walls with chemicals that prevent the growth of mould.
King highlighted that this is the fifth time the organization has helped mitigate a disaster in Ottawa — with its teams assisting people impacted by tornadoes in 2018, cleaning up homes after extensive flooding in 2017 and 2019, and removing downed trees following a violent 2020 windstorm.
However, the organization’s largest disaster response was seen in Calgary during the 2013 floods, followed by massive wildfires in Fort McMurray three years later, King added.
“Because of all those responses, we are pretty well known amongst the emergency management folks in the City of Ottawa,” King said.
With files from Catherine Morrison and Andrew Duffy
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