LaSalle flooding could be worse this year than last, as mayor prompts people to start planning

LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy said the water level is even higher this year than it was last year, when flooding caused serious issues.

High water levels and particular wind conditions detrimental to Front Road shoreline

The Town of LaSalle urged people to avoid flooded streets over the weekend, and to have an evacuation plan in case the flood season worsens. (Marine Lefèvre/Radio-Canada)

Flooding in LaSalle has eased since Victoria Day when strong east winds were causing overland flooding along the Detroit River.

But Mayor Marc Bondy said the water level is still even higher this year than it was last year, when flooding caused serious issues.

He says people who live west of Front Road need to be prepared to get out if necessary.

"Especially with COVID-19 this year, if you're planning to go somewhere, it could be long-term, so don't go to a friend's house," said the mayor. "You might need a week or two or longer."

The town had warned people they should evacuate if their properties are significantly flooded and they feel unsafe, after wind conditions along with high river levels pushed an overflow onshore over the weekend. 

Bondy said the town's emergency services vehicles can't access flooded areas like that. 

But so far, no one has had to evacuate. 

"No one is leaving the area to my knowledge because we asked all the residents to let us know if you're leaving so we know in an emergency situation if we have to go in, we're not looking into a home a vacant," he said. 

Parts of LaSalle near Front Road saw flooding May 18. The town said emergency services may be delayed to the area. (Marine Lefèvre/Radio-Canada)

So far, flooding in the town hasn't been as bad this year as it was in 2019. But Bondy said the Essex Region Conservation Authority gave council a presentation including an outlook which did not look good. 

"ERCA told the town in February that water levels are every high ...If the winds don't pick up we could be safe," said Bondy, adding that "the rising water is just something we can't control."

"We have higher water levels now than they were same time last year and to expect worse. They say, 'Northeast winds are coming in,' then we know we have to have people on standby and pumps and get ready to go, but besides that there's no preventing that. You can't fight Mother Nature."

Unfortunately, no one can predict the wind direction long-term, so the fate of properties near LaSalle's shoreline is mostly unknown. 

"There's not much we can do to prevent it," said Bondy. 

The mayor said about 1,500 notices went out to residents letting them know they should have a plan in case evacuation is necessary.

"We can't prevent it, we're trying to alert people," said Bondy.