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State of emergency: Chatham-Kent homes may be vacated for up to 8 weeks

Saturday, February 29th 2020, 1:10 pm - Municipality will begin repairing the dike along the road during that time, mayor says

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is asking residents who live along Erie Shore Drive to stay out of their homes for the next six to eight weeks.

A potential failure of the Erie Shore Drive dike led Chatham-Kent's mayor to declare a "state of emergency" for residents in the area Friday afternoon.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said the chance of the dike breaching would be "very significant" in the event of a major storm.

Lake Erie freezing Jason Homewood CBC Sprays off of Lake Erie flooded some homes along Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent on Feb. 15, 2020. (Submitted by Jason Homewood)

In a statement, the municipality said the situation constitutes a "danger of major proportions," resulting in significant property damage and harm to people.

Residents who live on Erie Shore Drive between house numbers 18416 and 17982 are advised to leave the area.

The municipality said homeowners along that stretch should call the Chatham-Kent Homeless Response Line at 519-354-6628 if they need "emergency accommodation or additional support."

"Erie Shore Drive is currently closed except for local traffic. At any time, administration may need to close Erie Shore Drive to all traffic, including local residents if weather and other conditions warrant such measures," the municipality said.

Administration is also asking council to close Erie Shore Drive indefinitely starting Mar. 9 "from address 18416 to the intersection of Erie Shore Drive and Erieau Road," the municipality added.

Chatham kent area CBC (Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

"Council will consider this matter for voting at its regular council meeting on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 6 p.m."

CONCERNS RAISED DURING MEETING FOR RESIDENTS

During a special meeting in Chatham-Kent council chambers Friday evening, residents of Erie Shore Drive and Erieau were visibly charged as they expressed concerns about having to leave their homes for so long.

"This isn't just an inconvenience for people to leave their homes. Their insurance policies will likely be cancelled if their property is damaged — which we all know will be," said Cadeau, during a live stream of the meeting on YourTV Windsor.

During Friday's meeting, council informed residents that shoreline repairs would happen in two phases. The first phase would see the municipality make repairs to the dike during the next six to eight weeks, Canniff told CBC News after the meeting.

SEE ALSO: Manitoba faces spring Red River flood, dry conditions along Assiniboine

"It's the phase two — the longer-term solution — which we'll be looking at several options. That will have to be decided in the future."

Canniff said the municipality will "do everything it can to help out" residents affected by the order to leave.

"With the breach, we will flood 1,600 acres of farmland — as well as block out the road that leads to Erieau. That community of about 500 people could become an island."

The municipality advises homeowners along Erie Shore Drive to call the Chatham-Kent Homeless Response Line at 519-354-6628 if they need "emergency accommodation or additional support."

Original article published on CBC.ca

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