'Significant damage' caused by flooding in Leamington the worst seen in decades

The destruction caused by flooding from high winds and water levels in Leamington over the weekend is the worst seen in decades, according to a conservation official.

Point Pelee is partially open again, but the road to the tip is still flooded

Tim Byrne from ERCA says residents in Leamington are dealing with "significant damage" after flooding over the weekend. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

The destruction caused by flooding from high winds and water levels in Leamington over the weekend is the worst seen in decades, according to a conservation official.

Tim Byrne, director of watershed management for the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), described the damage as the most extensive seen since the 1970s.

"Sections of the road are washed out, municipal infrastructure has been significantly damaged, several private properties have significant, significant damages," he said. "There are vehicles that are marooned on the road, people went out in an area where they should not be and actually drove off the road."

Officials in Leamington say high winds and water levels caused significant damage over the weekend. 1:39

Provincial police asked residents in Essex County not to drive Sunday unless it was absolutely necessary, because of flooding caused by water from Lake Erie being whipped by the wind across area roads.

Voluntary evacuations were also issued for residents on Cedar Island as water levels rose above the shoreline.

ERCA estimated 1,500 homes were surrounded by water, but no injuries have been reported.

The municipality's deputy fire chief, Mike Ciacelli said despite the weather, most residents decided to stay put.

"We did have a few more residents yesterday that decided to pick up and leave, but in all honesty, the majority of individuals that live out there understand what the conditions could be like if they get into those situations, and most of them chose to stay there."

Byrne said the flood waters left several vehicles "marooned." (Melissa Nakhavoly/Twitter)

Monday brought calmer condition for the parts of Leamington that were lashed by lake water over the weekend, but Byrne said the western side of the point is still seeing significant splash and spray as the wind pushes waves into the basin "like water washing back in a bathtub."

Point Pelee partially re-opens

Point Pelee National Park was closed around noon Sunday as trails and roadways flooded, but some parts of the park were opened to visitors again Monday morning.

"At this point people cannot visit the tip because of flooding," explained Monique Oltrop, manager of visitor experience for the park. "They can drive into the park as far as the visitor centre – that's as far south in the park as they can visit at this point."

The parking lot for the marsh boardwalk is also swamped, so the attraction remains closed.

Oltrop said staff at Point Pelee are waiting for the flood waters to go down so they can get a clearer picture of how the water affected the park, but added she doesn't expect any lasting damage.

"From what we can assess right now it's just … some cleanup in terms of some debris from branches … on the trails." 

Flood watch upgraded to warning

ERCA upgraded its flood watch from the weekend to a warning Monday morning.

Several roads in Leamington were under water Sunday as rain and strong winds continued. (Marie-Helene Ratel/CBC)

People living in Leamington, all areas west of Point Pelee and the west coast shoreline area of the island were warned to prepare for flooding.

The West Shore Road of Pelee Island was closed and Byrne said the shoreline is being eroded by damaging waves.

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