Fields flooded by the rising Thames River in Thamesville, February 23, 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Police Service)

UPDATE: State Of Emergency In Thamesville

Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope has declared a State of Emergency for Thamesville because of severe flooding along the Thames River.

Volunteer firefighters have been going door to door in the town since 11am on Friday, and officials are requesting an immediate voluntary evacuation of the community.

Fields flooded by the rising Thames River in Thamesville, February 23, 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Police Service)

Fields flooded by the rising Thames River in Thamesville, February 23, 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Police Service)

“We are recommending a volunteer evacuation and urging residents to prepare to leave as soon as possible,” Hope said in a news release.

Most of Thamesville had been evacuated as of 9pm, according to fire officials.

Hope adds it’s unknown whether or not the voluntary evacuation will become a mandatory order.

“This is a different flooding scenario than we’ve seen in the past and we’re just asking that all residents take precautionary measures,” said Hope. “We have experts that say [Thamesville] is going to be extremely critical in the area. Thamesville is our priority right now — we’re serving notice and we will see in potentially ten hours the impacts that will be then there felt in the city of Chatham.”

The LTCVA is predicting there may be a half-meter of standing water throughout the community by Friday evening, but warned that number is subject to change. As of 6pm, the municipality says the river will peak near Thamesville at around midnight, which is three hours later than initially anticipated.

“As much as we have scientific predictions, there are still variables,” said Hope. “We need residents to leave sooner rather than later in case the situation deteriorates.”

Fire officials say gas has also been shut off to more than 800 homes and businesses during the flooding incident.

The John. D Bradley Centre in Chatham will be opening at noon Friday as an emergency shelter for residents who aren’t able to stay with friends or relatives in unaffected areas. Residents who want to use the shelter should call 519-360-1998 for details.

Anyone who is going to take shelter at the centre should take a 72-hour supply of medication and personal items with them as officials expect the water to remain high for several days.

A temporary animal shelter will be set up at the convention centre for people who have pets. Those pets will be shuttled from the centre to a municipal shelter in Chatham or Wallaceburg, depending on availability. TJ Stables in Chatham is also stepping forward and is offering to take in 45 dogs as a temporary home for local pets.

In response to the flooding, the municipality has activated its emergency procedures and officials are working closely with police, fire, and EMS sectors as well as the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.

You can read more information on the flooding by clicking here.

-With files from Paul Pedro.