Flooding ‘nightmare’ unfolds for families along Erie Shore Drive

Flooding along Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent, August 27, 2019 (Photo courtesy of Jason Homewood via Twitter)

Families who live along Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent are reeling after strong wind and rain forced gallons of water from Lake Erie into their homes Monday night.

The Dixon family lives in one of 40 homes on the Lake Erie shoreline that were impacted by flooding. The family was also among those who voluntarily left their homes after the municipality issued a localized state of emergency for the shoreline.

“Imagine spending 32 years in one spot and it’s taken away from you in one storm,” said Trevor Dixon, a married father of three who lives in the home with his family. “It was almost like a tidal wave coming down the road. I just was in shock at how much water had arrived at my house within 15 minutes.”

Residents in the Erie Beach area have been battling high water levels all summer long, but Dixon said this is the worst it has ever been.

“It’s a constant battle with the water,” he said. “The waves smash right on the rocks and shoot up 30 feet in air and pool on the other side, and the other side just happens to be your home.”

To make matters worse, Dixon said Monday night’s storm also caused sewage to flow up from the toilet, which also flooded the home.  The hydro has also been turned off throughout the affected area as a safety precaution. Dixon added that while he had pumped most of the water out of his home on Tuesday, it remained unlivable.

“I can’t live in the house with raw sewage in the cracks. I need a place to live. And from that point on, I’ve got to decide if we move, rent or buy,” he said.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Dixon said his three children were able to find a silver lining in having all that water on the shore.

“My youngest played slip-and-slide in the water all day because he thought that was pretty cool [and] my two eldest managed to help. But that’s what 10-year-olds do — they can make and find adventure in anything.”

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is offering free shelter and transportation services to those affected along Erie Shore Drive, but Dixon said in the long run, he will have to do some “soul searching” when it comes to the home he’s been in for more than three decades.

“It’s kind of a catch-22. Sure you could bring in the professionals and they can clean it all up… but to clean it up [and] what, have it happen in two months again? To live this nightmare two months from now?” he said. “The water is not going to go down and these storms are not going to stop, so it’s going to be a reality check for a lot of landowners here, myself included.”