In the Spring of 2019 the Ottawa River experienced a 100 year flood for the second time in 2 years. The Brockville Rifles deployed 6 soldiers, 2 senior N.C.O.s and 1 junior officer for Operation Lentus. The members of The Brockville Rifles formed up with other regiments from 33 CBG to form the 33 Domestic Response Company (33 DRC). The Brocks were deployed on 2 week contracts from 27 Apr 2019 to 3 June 2019.
The Brocks were the first group to arrive at 33 HQ to go through the in-clearance process. Being the first, they quickly formed the first platoon of 33 DRC with a Platoon Commander, Platoon 2nd in-command and 1 Section. 1PL was augmented by other regiments until it reached full strength.
From The Brockville Rifles the follow members formed the first platoon of 33 DRC:
Lt Melchers, AF
Sgt Moss, R
Cpl Dologh, KFJ
Cpl Jowett, B
Cpl Bongers, I
Pte(B) Clancey, GC
Rfn Barkley, E
Rfn Godkin, P
Following RSOM 1Pl quickly tasked to Cumberland to assist with relief efforts.
The first day and a half was spent reinforcing the civilian purchased aqua dam which came to be known as the Water Slug.
This privately purchased dam was inflated with water and held back flood waters protecting 3 homes in Cumberland. The Slug was being pushed towards the homes by the pressure of the water. The mission was to reinforce it to prevent it from squeezing the homes. The final construction was a site to behold and a number of dignitaries and media outlets came to this spot to see the Water Slug in action.
For the first few days 33 DRC was on rations as their position was in the East end of Ottawa and too far from CFB Connaught for fresh food. However, the local citizens of Cumberland were constantly bringing food to the Community Centre. Fresh coffee was put on every morning by a local store and goodies were in constant supply. The generosity of the local citizens kept the Company’s morale high and ensure we were to accomplish all of our tasks.
Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant
After the first two very hard days, the soldiers of 1Pl boarded their vehicles to return to the Cumberland Community Centre. While on the way back all 3 platoons of 33 DRC were diverted to the Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant. The Immediate Response Unit determined that the Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant was under threat and could get flooded with projected water levels.
33DRC was tasked with securing the water treatment plant. The company was now at full strength with 3 platoons. 1Pl and The Brockville Rifles were the first on the ground at the plant to rectify the situation. The parking lot was starting to flood with water levels approaching the plant.
The Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant is the main water source for the City of Ottawa. The plant supplies 50% of the water to Ottawa. If the plant were to be flooded the city would have to ration water as it would only have a 48 hour supply.
The soldiers of 33DRC were able to erect a 5ft high sandbag wall within 2 hours of arrival. The soldiers worked quickly and efficiently in order to accomplish this task. It was noted that while on site the water level raised by 2 inches.
Regular force engineers showed up in the evening and 33 DRC assisted with erecting a secondary gabion wall. 33DRC was on this position until approximately 2am.
Without the professionalism and efficiency of 33DRC the situation in Ottawa would be entirely different.
Due to the actions of 33DRC 1Pl and 7 soldiers were awarded challenge coins from Col Adair, 2CBMG. Col Adair referenced our accomplishments at the plant in our speech, citing how 33DRC was able to respond quickly and get the task done. He also mentioned that this task was being praised for its excellent coordination of combined arms. This was followed up by a coin being issued by the 4 Div Commander.
The Fight Continues
The following two days were spent building a 300m sandbag wall in order to protect Cumberland in the vicinity of Morin Dr. Peak water levels were projected for Wednesday with a projected rise of 2′. There was also 2″ of snow and rain forecasted for Wednesday.
A home owner had erected their own wall which was noted as deficient by 1Pl. The insufficient wall was on the verge of failure and barely holding back 4 feet of water. The engineers erected a correct wall with the Infantry supplying a constant line of sandbags. By Tuesday Cumberland IVO Morin Dr and East Shore road was secure.
Wednesday was spent as the Immediate Reaction Unit’s Quick Reaction Force. We got our first task in the afternoon to reinforce walls around Galetta. We returned to Cumberland Arena by 2000 Wednesday.
Thursday has been for reorg to redeploy back to Connaught.
Morale has been high and performance exceptional. There is a lack of senior NCOs and many privates and Corporal have stepped up to fill the leadership positions. Everyone understands their roles and the importance of the task.
After two weeks many of The Brockville Rifles contracts were expired and the next set of soldiers continued to provide assistance to townships in the Ottawa Valley.