'We're managing': Mayor says 300 basements, 'significant' number of roads flooded

Windsor police closed E.C. Row Tuesday afternoon and urged motorists to steer clear of flooded streets, where many drivers abandoned their vehicles in deep water.

Between 80 and 150 millimetres of rain doused the Windsor area between noon and 4 p.m. Tuesday

More than 5,000 basements were flooded in Windsor-Essex last week. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

The Mayor of Windsor is urging people to use caution as the city deals with street flooding he says is significantly worse than the deluge that swamped the city nearly a year ago. 

"I want everyone know that all the storm water management systems are operating as normal - it's the sheer volume of the rain that's the problem," said Drew Dilkens Tuesday night, adding the water has been so powerful it's blown off manhole covers on city streets. 

Dilkens said there have been 310 basements flooded in Windsor - just a fraction of the 3,000 basements that were flooded during the storm in September of 2016. 

"But the road flooding has been much more significant and that could be a function of folks taking advantage of the backwater program, the disconnect program," said Dilkens, who noted there were 175 calls for flooded roads to the city's 311 service. 

"And certainly we'd rather have water on the roads than in people's basements."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens answers questions during a press conference after heavy rainfalls led to flooding in parts of the city. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Dilkens said the city has not called a State of Emergency, an extraordinary measure it implemented last year.

"I think the state of emergency is actually in Houston, it's not in the City of Windsor," said Dilkens at a press conference in the garage of the downtown fire hall.

Dilkens was also asked about Monday night's council decision to spend $3-million on a holiday display at Jackson Park as people's basements started to flood. 

"There will be folks who will criticize lots of different decisions," said Dilkens, adding the city has added $12 million to the city's flooding protection program. 

"The City of Windsor has not been neglecting its duty with respect to flooded basments."

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      Road Closures

      Windsor police closed E.C. Row Tuesday afternoon and urged motorists to steer clear of flooded streets, where many drivers abandoned their vehicles in deep water. 

      "Please don't drive unless absolutely necessary," said Windsor Police in a Facebook post shortly before 4 p.m. "Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots."

      Police reopened E.C. Row shortly before 5 p.m.

      The city's 311 system went down for a period but was back on line by 4:30 p.m. The city warned, though, that call volumes meant that "delays will be substantial."

      Windsor Regional Hospital declared a "Code Orange" Tuesday afternoon because of "significant flooding" on the ground floor and some inpatient areas. 

      "Rain water was coming up through the drains on the main floor and from the parking lots right into the building," said the hospital in a release. "Impacted areas include the Emergency Department, patient food services, pharmacy and diagnostic imaging."

      Patients at the Met campus are being sent to the Ouellette campus if possible and paramedics are being redirected to the Ouellette campus. Anyone seeking emergency care is advised to go to the Ouellette campus. 

      Devonshire Mall closed early in the afternoon. The YMCA on Central  Avenue also closed and it is unclear when programs will resume. 

      Police said Tuesday afternoon they were receiving numerous reports of vehicles stalled out in flooded streets.

      Police said the hardest hit areas were: 

      • Jefferson Blvd from EC Row to Wyandotte St
      • Riverside Drive from Pillette Rd to Lauzon Rd
      • McDougal Av at Shepherd St
      • Glengale Av at Reginald St
      • Most of College Av
      • Pillete Rd at Seminole St
      • Matchette Rd at EC Row
      • Tecumseh Rd at Crawford Av
      • Tecumseh Rd btwn Bruce Av and South Cameron Blvd
      • Dominion Blvd/Dougall Av/ Norfolk St and Labelle St areas

      Heavy rains continued to drench Windsor and Essex County in southwestern Ontario Tuesday following a record rainfall Monday night that flooded streets and basements and temporarily closed some businesses  — 11 months after another storm that also caused widespread flooding.

      Between 80 and 150 millimetres of rain doused the Windsor area between noon and 4 p.m. and an additional 50 millimetres is in the forecast, said Environment Canada in a bulletin warning of flash floods and pooling water on roads. That's on top of the rains that pounded the area Monday night, flooding roads and basements.

      Windsor's airport recorded rainfall of 57.4 millimetres, shattering the old record of 43.2 mm for Aug. 28 that was recorded in 1961. Volunteers in the Tecumseh area reported rain totals of 129 mm and a volunteer southwest of Windsor recorded total rainfall of 140.5 mm, said Environment Canada.

      A flood warning has been issued by the Essex Region Conservation Authority.