UPDATE: Flooding along Thames River prompts State of Emergency (GALLERY)February 8, 2019 9:18am
A localized State of Emergency has been issued, however, flooding is no longer concern for Chatham.
Bob Crawford, the chief fire and paramedic official for Chatham-Kent, said Friday morning that the dike by Poppe Road is the main problem. The State of Emergency is for the areas of Dover and Tilbury that are close to the Thames River.
As of early Friday evening, repairs along the Thames River dike in West Kent were ongoing.
“Our goal is to repair the leaks as quickly as possible,” said Thomas Kelly, general manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services for the municipality. “The ice jam has caused the river level to rise to the highest point of the dike. New leaks are occurring on a regular basis.”
Although flooding concerns remain in place for Jeannette’s Creek, municipal officials said as of 5 p.m., water levels in Chatham are currently stable and further flooding is not expected.
In the meantime, first responders have gone door-to-door to notify residents of the situation. A 24-hour phone line has also been set up for residents who have questions or concerns (519) 360-1998.
“A couple spots along the dikes we see some water that is leaking through into the fields and that’s a bad sign for us,” said Crawford. “That suggests that the dikes are potentially failing. We called crews into work, contractors in and we have backhoes and dump trucks moving materials around to stop the flow of that water and to repair the damaged dikes.”
Crawford said while the build-up of ice broke near the Prairie Siding Bridge allowing water to flow, the ice at Lake St. Clair has not fractured. He said it is causing a barrier and increasing the water levels on the west end of the municipality.
As of Friday morning, Crawford said there have been no damages reported to any homes or buildings.
“Right now there are no properties at threat,” Crawford said. “We plan for the worst and we hope for the best. We are taking all the measures that a reasonable person would expect us to do just in case we have a further problem. We like to err on the side of caution, the advice we are giving is for people in these areas to take a break and drive into town and give us some time to fix the dike.”
Crawford added the drop in temperature isn’t helping. He said it is causing the ice and water to move slower which can increase the water levels.
Crawford said while some streets like Siskind Court in Chatham were completely flooded, the situation isn’t as bad at last year’s State of Emergency and he hopes it won’t be.
According to Crawford, a State of Emergency allows the municipality to enter properties in exigent circumstances. He said it is issued when resources run out or the problem becomes so big the municipality can’t manage it the regular way.
“In this case though we are really just trying to stay ahead of the problem,” Crawford said. “If the dikes don’t fail, if the water doesn’t raise any higher, it will be a good news story of the community. However, in the event that the water does rise, our concern is that the fields, properties and homes will become flooded.”
Crawford added by declaring a State of Emergency, it advises the province that Chatham-Kent is dealing with a very severe problem and it allows the public to know what is being done.