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Ice jam causes flooding in Chatham, concerns in Lighthouse Cove
Water levels in the city of Chatham are receding, but residents across the municipality are still on high alert after an ice jam caused flooding in low lying areas.
The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority issued a Flood Warning on Thursday after an ice jam formed in the Thames River at Prairie Siding west of the city late Wednesday night.
Residents in the city of Chatham spent Thursday watching river levels rise to the point where water flooded a number of homes, businesses and roads.
No homes have been evacuated, but residents are still concerned about potential damage.
There was some relief Thursday afternoon. The ice jam broke near Prairie Siding, but municipal officials anticipate water levels could rise an additional 75 cm before the river peaks by Friday afternoon.
“It was a little scary,” says Kathy Watson. “We wondered when it would go. We didn't think it would move this quickly because it's not that warm yet so we're grateful that it is."
But while water levels are receding in the city of Chatham, officials are concerned about flooding downstream through the Raleigh and Dover areas and into the Town of Lakeshore including Lighthouse Cove. Residents are asked to watch out for high water levels and potential flooding.
Former MPP Andy Watson watched as water flowed into his swimming pool. Luckily, his home on Grande River Line was spared.
“It's the highest flood that I've ever seen,” says Watson. “Last year when we had one that came up, it was three or four inches less."
Officials in Chatham-Kent expect to see the full extent of the damage from flooding on Friday evening.
Fire Chief Bob Crawford tells CTV News unlike the flood last February, this event is hard to predict.
“We were really caught by surprise,” admits Crawford. “We hadn't anticipated the building of an ice jam in the river. That's highly unusual for this time of year.”
The Conservation Authority continues to operate the 6th Street Dam and Pumping Station.
The LTVCA has also issued a Gale Warning for Lake Erie, with southerly wind speeds of 45 km/h up to 90 km/h in the forecast for Thursday night and Friday.
Officials are concerned about shoreline damage and flooding in areas exposed to the open lake, especially along Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent.
Crawford reminds residents to avoid going near the water or any shorelines, and to put their safety first.
If residents do not feel safe in their homes, they can call 519-360-1998 so other accommodations can be made for the night.