Flooding forces evacuations

People being helped from their homes as Thames River flood water forces evacuations on Siskand Court, February 24, 2018. Image: Greg Holden

Dramatic scenes continued to unfold for a second straight day across Chatham-Kent as flood water caused evacuations, closed streets and destroyed basements. A day after mayor Randy Hope declared a state of emergency the water continued to rise to levels unseen in decades. No loss of life has been reported.

In an interview with CKReview News mayor Hope worried that people are getting too close to the river bank. Hope said, “The concern I have is for the people who are standing on the bank of the river. They need to stand back. We don’t know if the underneath of the bank is stable or if it could be swept away. We just don’t know.” Hope said by declaring a state of emergency the municipality can establish an Emergency Operations Centre that co-ordinates the response of first responders and allows for co-operation between rescue services for affected families. “It’s nearly as high as it was in 1985”, Hope said about the Thames River, “It’s higher than in 2009.”

In a press release the municipality said 400 customers in Thamesville who had their gas turned off will have their service restored, after flooding levels were lower than anticipated. The water level in Thamesville is expected to remain high for several days.

The John D Bradley Centre housed two families last night. People reported staying with friends and family on social media. Some people were asking for a place to stay online, others were offering their homes to strangers in need.

Pets left behind concerned many and TJ Stables is offering free kennel stays for one night. PETA also sent local media some pet tips, advising to not leave animals outdoors, tied up, crated, caged, in hutches, or confined in any other way, as they will be unable to flee rising waters.

Rain and some thunderstorms are forecast for the region, starting tonight and ending Sunday morning. At this point it appears that the majority of the activity will remain south of Lake Erie according to Environment Canada. 10 to 20 mm of rain is expected and given the saturated state of the area even modest rainfall may have impact.

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