Prairie Siding Bridge. February 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.)

Localized state of emergency remains in effect with rain on the way

Municipal officials in Chatham-Kent are still keeping a close eye on the Thames River and the forecast as a localized State of Emergency remains in effect.

A new release issued Monday afternoon states that dike conditions in West Kent continue to improve as water levels go down. Water levels measured at Pump Road have dropped 60 centimetres in the past 24 hours, and since Friday evening the levels have dropped 137 inches.

Although dikes on the north side of the river are stable, there are a couple of leaks on the south side near St. Peter’s Church near Tilbury.

The localized State of Emergency was first issued Friday morning for the areas along the river between Dover Township and Lighthouse Cove.

“The mouth of the river at Lighthouse Cove is free of ice. Open water is beginning to appear at the far east side of the ice jam near Prairie Siding Bridge,” the municipality said in the release. “However, the ice jam remains stationary extending 200 meters east of the mouth of the river through to Prairie Siding Bridge.”

There is a possibility that the water levels may rise again due to the amount of precipitation expected Monday night and Tuesday morning. Officials with the Lower Thames Conservation Authority (LTVCA) are monitoring the weather to “determine the potential impact”. However, officials with the conservation authority said that it is difficult to predict how the precipitation will affect conditions on the river.

“The behaviour of an ice jam is difficult to predict,” LTVCA said in a release. “The jam could push out into the lake safely, or it could jam up again causing more severe flooding.”

Municipal officials are reminding residents to be cautious around the river. Pump Road remains closed due to ice conditions.

The localized State of Emergency is expected to remain in effect until “the situation has fully stabilized.” In the meantime, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority said a Flood Watch will remain in place until February 15.

Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to call (519) 360-1998.

-With files from Matt Weverink