OPP: 'No evacuation required' as Port Bruce flood waters recede

OPP initially warned about the potential for evacuations as steady rain and melting snow swell streams and rivers throughout southwestern Ontario.

Rain and warm weather combine to swell rivers and streams

'An hour ago, this street was dry, now it’s under a foot of water,' reported OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor in social media post at 11: 30 a.m. (OPP)

OPP sounded the alarm on Tuesday as steady rain and melting snow swell streams and rivers throughout southwestern Ontario. 

Initially warning about the potential for evacuations, police sent out a tweet late Tuesday saying that "flood waters have receded in Port Bruce" and that no evacuations were required.

'A foot of water' Tuesday morning

In a social media post this morning, OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor reported from the corner of Imperial Road and Lindley Street in Port Bruce, a community on Lake Erie about 20 kilometres east of Port Stanley.

"An hour ago, this street was dry," he says in a video post. "Now it's under a foot of water."

A flood gauge at Western University showing the water levels along the Thames. Early this morning, Western police say you could walk out and touch it. (Colin Butler/CBC)

The OPP warning came as unseasonably mild temperatures and steady rain began to swell rivers and streams. 

Environment Canada had issued a rainfall warning for London and Strathroy. Total rainfall amounts through to Wednesday will be in the 50 to 75 mm range.

Meanwhile, mild temperatures (it was 14 C in London at midday Tuesday) prompted a massive snow melt. 

Flood watch across region

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) reported this morning that rivers and streams were rising quickly across the upper Thames watershed, as a result of overnight rain and melting snow. A cold front will arrive Wednesday, bringing an end to the rain.

The UTRCA said this mix of rain and melting snow caused flooding in the following areas:

City of London:

  • Waubuno Creek: Travelled Road, River Road.
  • North Thames River: Windermere and Adelaide Streets; Gibbons Park (Victoria Avenue); Harris Park.
  • Pottersburg Creek:Oxford Street (Veterans Memorial Parkway).
  • Thames River: Wellington and Front Streets.
  • Western University: Elgin Hall and Talbot parking lots; Tennis Centre.

Outside London

  • City of Woodstock: Thames River at Highway 2; Cedar Creek at Southside Park
  • Thames Centre: Village of Putnam south of Highway 401; Reynolds Creek - Golden Pond Trailer Park
  • East Zorra: Tavistock: Braemar Trailer Park
  • Zorra: Ponderosa Trailer Park
  • Middlesex Centre: Former Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School site; River Road.
  • Perth South: Prospect Hill Campground.
  • West Perth: Motherwell area.
  • City of Stratford: Dolan Drive; Avon Cemetery; Stratford Golf and Country Club.
  • Town of St. Marys: Thomas Street between Park and Queen Streets; Parkview Drive; St. Marys Golf & Country Club.
Parking close to the river at Western University have been evacuated due to rapidly rising water levels on the Thames. (Colin Butler/CBC)

Both the OPP and the UTRCA said children and pets should stay away from all watercourses. 

"Stream banks are very slippery, the water is fast-moving, cold and dangerous, and any remaining ice cover is unstable and thin. Do not go on frozen flood control reservoirs," the UTRCA said. 

Snow surveys underway

The Conservation Authority performs regular snow surveys to track the water content in the snow cover. 

Last week, the average snow pack water equivalent across the watershed was estimated at 40 mm, with some stations reporting as high as 75 mm in the north, and some as low as 30 mm in the south.

With the double-digit temperatures persisting into Wednesday, this snow pack has melted or is currently melting. As the ground is largely frozen, this water is running off into smaller watercourses and eventually into the Thames River.

UTRCA reservoirs at Fanshawe (London), Wildwood (St. Marys) and Pittock (Woodstock) are being operated to reduce the downstream effects of flooding. Conditions are being monitored and updates will be issued as the event progresses.