Worst of the rain over, but state of emergency continues in Windsor, Tecumseh, Ont

Environment Canada says the storm system that drenched Windsor and Tecumseh, Ont., over the past three days is finally starting to weaken.

1,500 Windsor residents call in flood damage to city's service centre by Friday evening

Flooding in Windsor and Tecumseh, Ont. was called 'catastrophic' and 'unprecedented' by Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. (Submitted by Donnie Johnston)

Environment Canada says the storm system that drenched Windsor and Tecumseh, Ont., over the past three days is finally starting to weaken.  

As hundreds of residents recover from the severe flooding that hit Thursday morning, the national weather service ended its rainfall warning Friday afternoon, but a special weather statement remains in effect. Another 15-30 mm of rain is forecast for the end of the weekend. 

"The worst of the rain for Windsor is behind us, that's the good news," said CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland. 

Rainfall amounts have varied in the region since Wednesday evening, ranging from 135 millimetres in the worst-hit portions of Windsor to 195 millimetres in Tecumseh, according to Environment Canada, which still has a rainfall warning and flood watch for all of Essex County.

"To put those numbers in perspective the normal for September is 90 mm," Scotland said. "We had well over a month, the case of Tecumseh, well over two months, worth of rain falling in a short amount of time." 

City workers are asking residents to stay off the bridge 0:15

At a news briefing Friday, Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the flooding was caused by a "catastrophic amount of rain" that was "unprecedented" for his community. At its worst, the storm dumped more than 30 mm of rain per hour on the community, he said. 

"There is no storm system, not only in our community but anywhere that can sustain that type of impact in such a short period of time," McNamara said.  "The system did not fail. It was working at maximum capacity all night." 

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens explained his decision to declare a state of emergency for the city. Many residents no longer have insurance coverage because of regular flooding in the region, he said. 

"I have to allow these residents some relief in the best way I can do it," he said. 

By Friday evening, Windsor's service centre received 2,400 calls since the flood began. Of those calls, 1,500 were specific to basement flooding. 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority continued its flood warnings for Windsor, Tecumseh and the neighbouring town of Lakeshore through Friday evening. Lakeshore is also making sandbags available to residents who are worried of more rain flooding low-lying areas.  

Flooding leads to state of emergency in Windsor, Tecumseh, Ont. 0:44

Dilkens urged residents to flush less water as it continues to rain over the weekend.

"Try and be careful about how much water you put down the drain, because it does actually impact your neighbours," he said.

Disaster relief available

Once the initial emergency response to the flooding is over, there may also be some provincial relief through a couple of Ministry of Municipal Affairs programs.

Provincial inspectors are already in the communities assessing damage, said McNamara. Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro told CBC News more inspectors are on their way in the coming days.

Based on their assessments, residents may be able to get financial help through the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program.

"That might provide some financial assistance to individuals, small businesses and the like," Mauro said, adding the program may not cover everyone who suffered damage. "The programs are not intended to be a replacement for insurance coverage."

Municipalities can also apply for financial assistance through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance Program, which is designed to help communities that spend significant resources following natural disasters.

Mauro said there appears to be more severe weather incidents that require communities to access provincial support.

"It seems as though this is becoming more the norm than abnormal," he said.