—Haldimand Press photo by Valerie Posthumus.
By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
DUNNVILLE—The town of Dunnville and surrounding areas, particularly those downstream of the Dunnville Dam, saw Lake Erie surge to levels not seen since 1985 this past weekend. Gusts reached up to 120km/hr with sustained winds of 65km/hr. The lake surged almost half a metre above the critical level, rising from 174.9 metres at the beginning of the event to 175.9 metres at its peak on Sunday evening in Port Maitland.
The first flood warning was released on Friday, Feburary 22, 2019 by the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) noting that Environment Canada had issued a special weather statement for Lake Erie as high winds were expected Sunday afternoon. All predictions were uncertain as the timing would be affected by the winds and the height would be affected by the ice cover.
Residents were warned of imminent flooding and encouraged to stay indoors as the high winds would mean blowing debris could pose a danger. Kyra Hayes, Supervisor of Corporate Affairs at Haldimand County, said, “This event met or exceeded the critical level between 2 p.m. (Sunday) afternoon and approximately 7 a.m. (Monday).”
By Sunday afternoon the Port Maitland Pier and surrounding roads were closed due to flooding. Gas utilities were shut off for the homes in the area. The Grand River Marina and Café saw flooding as well in its parking lots, at the boat launch, and around the facility. Innophos in Lowbanks saw flooding as well. Roadway flooding was also seen at Dover Street west of Lighthouse Drive and Rymer Road near the boat launch in Port Maitland.
Haldimand County Emergency Services staff, GRCA staff, and the OPP were continuously monitoring roads for flooding while further warning area residents.
On Sunday, Jason Gallagher, Manager of Emergency Services and Fire Chief, said that “Cayuga Arena is being prepared as a possible reception centre if required”, such as in the case of an evacuation. Station 9 completed a door-to-door search of the homes/cottages in Port Maitland to get a head count in the event of an evacuation, but ultimately no evacuation order was ordered. Station 7 also completed a tour of homes on the lakeshore in Lowbanks.
Sunday night, Gallagher reported: “Water levels have dropped at least two feet in Port Maitland … (in) Dunnville, water has dropped by at least four feet … Wind gusts are still strong, but have decreased in speed.”
One resident was injured when a tree fell onto her vehicle, as seen on Page 1. Multiple homes had obvious wind damage as shingles were torn off by the wind, and one home had a tree fall on it (shown above), but sustained minimal damage. As the temperature dropped, snow began to fall, making roads slippery and decreasing visibility.
The flood warning was cancelled on Monday, although the Lake Erie conditions statement for high water levels remained in effect as of press time. People are reminded to stay away from water areas and to keep children and pets away as well while levels remain high.