Leamington mayor hopes for provincial help after 300 structures damaged by storm and waves

Residents along the shoreline in Leamington are calculating the damage to their properties, as the mayor hopes for provincial funding.

Mayor says most people have lost or partially lost their break walls along the shore

Jerry Westfall's home along the shoreline in Leamington was severely damaged by the storm on Sunday, April 15, 2018. High winds and strong waves broke his break wall. A tree uprooted and landed on his house. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Having lived on three different lakes in the province, Jerry Westfall is no stranger to storms and the damage they can cause.

But now he's thinking differently, after a break wall gave way and a large tree uprooted, falling onto his home on Marentette Beach in Leamington. 

"Once the tree hit the deck and crushed it, knocked it off, it's kind of stunning," said Westfall, looking out onto his damaged property where he's lived for ten years.

"We've had a lot of storms here and we haven't had any damage until now."

Leamington residents describe storm damage

5 years ago
Duration 0:43
Beachfront residents in Leamington, Ont. were walloped with waves and the damage is extensive.

A clean up crew told him his house was solid, but didn't want people inside of it. Westfall said he's now at the mercy of an insurance company.

"I just don't know what to do … I'm waiting for something to happen here," he said. 

A "travesty" but maybe not a "disaster"

Leamington Mayor John Paterson said despite the heavy rainfall, it was the high lake levels and winds that caused the bulk of the damage.

"They were huge, the waves were anywhere from 10 to 14 feet high coming into the shorelines and just going right over whatever break walls people had," said Paterson. 

Part of this Leamington home was gutted by the weekend storms. (Jason Viau/CBC)

"The roads were covered in water, people's yards, stuff that was in the lake had been thrown up into people's houses," he said.

Six to eight homes have been deemed uninhabitable, according to Paterson, and large sections of roads have been washed away.

"Pretty much everyone has lost part, if not all of their armour stone break walls that may have been there," he said. "It really is a travesty what's happened down there."

Wind and waves cause flooding in Essex County

5 years ago
Duration 1:40
Officials in Leamington say high winds and water levels caused significant damage over the weekend.

On Tuesday, crews were evaluating a 10 km stretch of shoreline and about 300 structures, said the mayor. Once they are done, they'll submit a report to the province to see if they may declare the area a disaster. 

The bulk of the damaged happened from Wheatley Harbour all the way to Point Pelee National Park, said Paterson. 

The harbours didn't seem to sustain much damage. 

The municipality has set up a dedicated email and phone line for those whose residences have been affected by the flooding. People can contact 519-325-5969 or