Siskind Court in Chatham has been closed due to flooding. February 7, 2019. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Flooding expected to hit downtown Chatham

An updated flood warning for the Thames River and local watercourses suggests Chatham’s downtown area may be hit hard this week.

Officials with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) said water levels on the Thames River have now peaked in Middlesex and Elgin Counties and are expected to flow down over the next couple of days.

The Diversion Channel Dam in Chatham is currently closed and the¬†Sixth Street Dam and pump station will start operating late Tuesday afternoon. The closure of the Sixth Street Dam is to prevent flooding in Chatham’s south end and to prevent water from backing up McGregor and Indian Creeks.

However, basement flooding for businesses along King Street is expected, as is flooding in Siskind Court. There is also a slight risk of flooding on Chatham Street, Salter Street, and the William Street at Water Street area.

The LTVCA issued a media release on Tuesday, stating that rainfall over the weekend caused flooding along the river for the third year in a row.

Conservation officials said peak flows are expected to reach Chatham overnight on Wednesday or by Thursday morning.

“There is currently some uncertainty as to what areas may get flooded in Chatham as peak flows are still a couple of days out,” read the LTVCA release. “High water levels on Lake St. Clair are also having an impact on Thames River water levels in the city.”

Water levels in Chatham are expected to rise another 50 centimetres to one metre in height by the time water levels peak. Conservation officials said predictions of what’s to come this week are similar to that of the flooding seen in 1982.

Chatham residents who live near the Thames River are encouraged to secure any items that may be damaged in a flood event. Residents are also warned to be careful around river banks as conditions are slippery and the water is cold and fast-moving.

Flooding is not expected to happen in Thamesville or Lighthouse Cove.

The current flood warning will remain in effect until January 17.

In the meantime, the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority has extended a flood warning until Thursday. Several roads remain closed due to flooding along the Sydenham River.

Conservation officials said although water levels are slowly falling across the region, they remain high in Wallaceburg. The gates of the McKeough Dam are still closed and water continues to be diverted.