August 26, 2019 (Photo by Allanah Wills)August 26, 2019 (Photo by Allanah Wills)

UPDATE: High water, strong winds prompt State of Emergency on Erie Shore Drive

Residents in the Erie Beach area who have been battling high water levels all summer long have been asked to voluntarily leave their homes.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff declared a State of Emergency for Erie Shore Drive on Tuesday at noon, as strong wind gusts and waves continue to batter the Lake Erie shoreline, causing significant flooding.

"We've done this for safety purposes. The road is unsafe, various aspects of this [area] are unsafe," Canniff said during a news conference late Monday afternoon. "We're doing everything we can from a municipal perspective to aid in that. We're offering free shelter for anyone who is impacted. Uride has [also] stepped up to provide rides."

Anyone along Erie Shore Drive who has been affected by the flooding and requires shelter or transportation for themselves and their pets should contact the municipality at 519-360-1998 for more information.

Emergency crews went door-to-door on Tuesday to assist with the evacuation efforts in the area.

Police Chief Gary Conn said around 40 households have been affected by flooding and residents at 30 of those homes have decided to leave. Municipal officials were unable to provide a timeline as to when these residents can return to their homes.

Residents at the other 10 households have chosen to remain in their homes.

"As a result of that, we've obtained their particulars -- their names, contact information -- just in case these winds do no abate or diminish or, God forbid, get worse with time," said Conn.

The flooding and erosion damage along the road is also causing some concerns for water supply in that area. Municipal officials said, "water pressure will be reduced to protect the line and the roadway in the event of failure." The pressure reduction is not expected to affect drinking water quality, though.

The latest reports from the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority indicated that the wind off of the lake is expected to continue throughout the week and into the weekend, so residents and visitors are asked to stay away from the area at this time for safety reasons. The road has been closed from Bissnet Line to Erieau Road and hydro has been turned off throughout the affected area as a safety precaution.

"We're still very concerned from an engineering perspective that we know we have very poor organic soils under this road, and the saturation along the bank and this ditch on the side that's eroded is causing great concern for us," said Ryan Brown, CK's director of Public Works.

Brown said they will continue to monitor the erosion and saturated shoreline, however, the area will need to dry up before the municipality can conduct any repairs.

Canniff said he and members and council will be meeting with administration to determine the next steps to mitigate further damage. As well, he said Chatham-Kent will most likely need to seek federal and provincial aid to address the situation.


-With files from Matt Weverink and Allanah Wills

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