Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he believes climate change is among the reasons homeowners in eastern Ontario are trying to save their homes from flooding for the second time in three years.
Ford was in the rural west end of Ottawa Friday morning touring flooded areas along the Ottawa River, where officials are warning the rain storm is going to make water levels rise rapidly over the next few days, likely exceeding the 2017 flood. Officials in Ottawa issued a state of emergency on Thursday.
Ford said when you see the affected people face-to-face it “just rips your heart out” and that they can’t be expected to go through this every single year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously stated that recurring springtime flooding is a consequence of climate change, which Ford said he agrees with.
“I am a strong believer in that and obviously you can see it … something is going on and we should be conscious of it,” Ford said.
WATCH: Ottawa residents are bracing for record-breaking floods
Ford’s visit to the flood zone in Ottawa came a week after his government announced a funding cut for flood management. When asked Friday if he would reconsider the cut, he said he would let his minister handle that and then went on to defend his government’s focus on cutting the deficit.
He said he is willing to sit down with the communities to talk about what is needed to protect their homes or offer compensation to move to higher ground, things both Quebec Premier Francois Legault and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs are looking at as they also deal with flooding in their provinces.
The Ontario government asked for federal help Thursday and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that will come.
Thousands of homes are flooded or surrounded by water along the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, as well as other parts of Quebec and in New Brunswick.
There are also flood warnings in several other areas of Ontario, including cottage country near Bracebridge, Ont., where lakes are going over their banks.