'Unpredictable' ice jam floods buildings in Chatham-Kent with rising Thames River

Conservation officials are asking people to stay away from river edges.

Flood warning expected to continue until Feb. 10

Warm temperatures broke up the ice and Thames River has risen

2 years ago
The river is still flowing despite the ice jams. 0:57

Some residents and business are already seeing their basements flooded by the risen Thames River in Chatham-Kent.

But it's not over yet. Jason Wintermute, water management supervisor for the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, said "it's difficult to say" just how far up the river can go.

"Ice jams are really unpredictable," he said.

Based on historical numbers, Wintermute said there could be up to an additional 60 centimetres added on Friday and into the weekend.

The river has already gone up over 3 metres since Thursday morning.

As of 5:15 p.m., the conservation authority said the ice jam that was at Prairie Siding had started to move and water levels were dropping in Chatham. However, the drop may not continue "if the ice jam reforms further downstream."

Conservation officials are asking people to stay away from river edges.

Flooding is expected overnight on William Street, Water Street, Salter Street and Thames Street.

Bonnie Larsen says she hasn't seen ice chunks this big come up to the restaurant door in her 29 years of working at Satellite Restaurant. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Bonnie Larsen has been a manager at Satellite Restaurant in Chatham for 29 years, but she rarely sees the water come up to the door.

"We normally have water, flooding, up through the river every year," said Larsen. "But we don't normally have these big chunks of ice."

Chatham-Kent police have also closed off access to some streets

"Barricades have been strategically set up along the Thames River, here in Chatham," said Const. Renee Cowell. "And we're asking motorists to please obey those barricades, do not drive around them, they've been put there for your safety."

The fire department also went door-to-door Thursday to warn businesses about potential flooding.

The flood warning issued by the conservation authority is expected to continue until Feb. 10.

With files from Dale Molnar


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