Windsor

Preparing for flooding is an added stress amid COVID-19, say shoreline residents

Residents living near the shoreline in Windsor-Essex appear to have a positive attitude as warnings come to prepare for flooding in the near future.

Windsor-Essex is on flood watch as officials report record-breaking high water levels

Gerry Dube lives on Riverside Drive E. where his backyard faces the Detroit River. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Residents living near the Windsor-Essex shoreline are trying to stay positive in the wake of flood warnings in the area, but acknowledge that water conditions are an added stressor amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) issued a flood watch for all shoreline areas within Windsor-Essex due to record-high lake levels.

Homes along the shorelines of Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie are most at-risk, including Gerry Dube's property.

Dube lives on Riverside Drive E. and his backyard faces the Detroit River.

"It pales in comparison to COVID-19, but it is a concern," he said. "I think right now the water's the highest I've ever seen."

The City of Windsor is offering sandbags available by appointment to ensure physical distancing. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

According to the Town of LaSalle's preliminary information for March, the water level on Lake St. Clair is 21 centimetres above its average while Lake Erie is 29 centimetres higher than normal.

Officials say water levels won't peak until mid-June or July.

This is concerning to Dube, who was so worried about flooding last year that he built a higher brick wall in his backyard to protect his property from rising water.

"I'm just overly concerned, because there's so much going on right now, it's just another thing to worry about, but that's life, isn't it?" He said.

Finding back-up accommodations

Dube said he's especially worried for his neighbours in lower lying areas who may need to evacuate their homes in the coming months.

Jolene Coomber, who lives in East Windsor with her boyfriend, said she's worried about flooding in her basement, despite having waterproofed the space.

"We're a little worried. We weren't at first because we sit further back in the river, but we just got something in our mailbox that said we should prepare ourselves for flooding, so it's just another issue on top," she said, adding that she's staying hopeful.

Gerry Dube built a higher brick wall in his backyard to protect his home from rising water. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said normally at this time, the city looks for places for people to gather in case they get flooded out of their homes. However, he said "COVID-19 poses an additional challenge."

Dilkens said the city is looking into making hotels available on a stand-by basis where residents can go in the event their homes get flooded and they have nowhere else to stay. 

For those in Tecumseh, officials have warned that emergency shelters won't be available for those self-evacuating, urging residents to arrange safe accommodations.

Sandbags available

Windsor is offering sandbags to be picked up by appointment to ensure physical distancing, while Tecumseh and LaSalle are making sand available to residents as well. 

The municipalities began warning residents earlier this week to prepare for flooding by sandbagging their homes or finding safe locations to stay as a back-up.

Dilkens has since written a letter to federal officials asking to get funding for flood mitigation.

About the Author

Tahmina Aziz

Reporter

The CBC's Tahmina Aziz currently reports out of Windsor and Toronto for TV, radio and web. Have a story? Email tahmina.aziz@cbc.ca. Twitter: @tahmina_aziz

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