Flooding pummels southern Ontario communities, prompting state of emergency

Windsor was hit with about 80 millimetres of rain, while the neighbouring Town of Tecumseh said its rainfall levels reached 190 millimetres.

Damages to homes 'overwhelming' as mayors asks senior levels of government for flood relief

The Essex Region Conservation Authority has updated its flood warning to include Lakeshore, Windsor and Tecumseh. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Two southern Ontario communities declared a state of emergency Thursday after the region was pummelled with record-setting rainfall that flooded homes, shut down roads and forced people to abandon their vehicles.

Both Windsor, Ont. and the neighbouring Town of Tecumseh suffered severe damages to homes and businesses, which officials say will be too overwhelming.

Mayors from both communities say they plan to ask senior levels of government for help.

"This is beyond the reasonable capacity of the city to handle," Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said at a news conference at city hall. "It's beyond the capacity of the residents to handle."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens speaks to reporters while declaring a state of emergency for the City of Windsor. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Windsor was hit with about 80 millimetres of rain, which started to hit Wednesday evening. Officials from the Town of Tecumseh, a small community just east of Windsor, said it was hit with record precipitation as rainfall reached 150 millimetres.

"I've never seen anything that intense in the 35 years I've been in the region," said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. "This is unprecedented."

Flood puts strain on emergency crews

Tecumseh fire officials say they responded to about 30 flood calls Thursday, calling in help from the Essex fire department in order to keep up with demand.

Windsor fire services reported 92 calls during the flooding. The city received 700 flood-related calls to its 311 service centre, which saw call volumes triple the normal level.

Lakeshore will be providing homeowners who feel that precautionary measures are needed with sand and sandbags at no cost this weekend. (CBC)

Dilkens said he wants to tap into a provincial emergency fund for financial help, if the city is eligible.

"We want to do everything we can. We're not shirking our responsibilities," he said.

Municipal crews throughout the region were swamped helping residents battle the high water.

Fire and police services in Windsor and Tecumseh asked residents to avoid driving on flooded roads and urged residents to avoid calling for service with non-life threatening issues.

Windsor police closed off several roads until water receded asking residents to avoid driving if possible.

Homes and businesses flooded

Plumber Bob Fowler arrived to work to discover his Riverside Drive office in east Windsor had flooded. His office is located in one of the worst-hit areas in Windsor. He told CBC News he received about 100 calls for assistance with his team of workers trying to navigate many city roads that have turned into temporary rivers.

"I had three trucks running around and they couldn't keep up," he said.

John and Matilda Adams discovered their flooded basement around 7 a.m. Thursday after severe rainfall hit the Town of Tecumseh and the rest of Essex County. (Jason Viau/CBC)

John and Matilda Adams discovered their flooded basement around 7 a.m. They already had two sub pumps to battle the water at their home on Orchard Park Drive, but they weren't enough as the rain continued to batter the community.

They hooked up two more pumps just to keep up.

Lauretta Lebute, 89, woke up around 7 a.m. to a heavily flooded yard. She and her husband couldn't leave the house because of so much water in the yard and surrounding streets.

"We would be, almost, knee deep in the water," she said. "I guess we'll have to stay here and not move."

Several drivers abandoned their vehicles as high water pooled up in parking lots and intersections.

"This is crazy. When it's knee-deep in the city of Windsor, who knows what's going to happen," said Mike Moroz. "We've been driving around today and there are accidents everywhere."

Several vehicles were stuck near the Tecumseh Mall, which was shut down for the day because of the large body of water that had pooled in its parking lot.

Provincial inspectors are expected to look into the storm when it is finished moving through the region on the weekend. 

With files from Meg Roberts, Stacey Janzer, Dale Molnar and Alex Brockman