Evacuation cordon in downtown Bolton shrinks as floodwaters recede
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Saturday, March 16, 2019 7:07AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 16, 2019 5:14PM EDT
Officials in downtown Bolton were able to shrink the size of an evacuation cordon after ice jams along the Humber River resulted in flooding Friday night that receded throughout the day Saturday.
Several roads in the vicinity of King and Queen Streets were covered by up to 1.5 feet of water when the Humber River began to overflow its banks at around 7 p.m. on Friday.
Emergency officials initially ordered the evacuation of about 45 homes but then at 1:30 a.m. they opted to extend the evacuation order south to cover another 40 or so homes.
Caledon Fire Chief Darryl Bailey says that about 30 of the evacuated homes have likely been directly affected by the flooding with the damage ranging from minor to significant.
At about 5 p.m. Saturday, the water levels had dropped to a point where all roadways had dried.
Officials told CTV News Toronto that all but 12-15 families would be able to return to their homes by the end of Saturday night.
Heavy equipment being used to break up ice jams
Contractors using heavy equipment were able to break up three of the ice jams overnight and are now focusing their efforts on a fourth and final ice jam, which Bailey said was initially difficult to access due to some trees and other woodland in the area.
He said that crews have recorded a 20 centimtre drop in overall water flow from Friday night but still need to clear the final ice jam to allow the existing floodwaters to subside.
That work, he said, will likely continue through the night and into tomorrow morning.
“We are fairly confident at this point that we are not going to see anymore flooding increase in the area we are dealing with. The floodwater that is there now will remain in place because there is nowhere for the water to go; just through the natural course of the water leaving the area,” he said.
Still a disaster area, mayor says.
A temporary evacuation centre for displaced residents was set up at the Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness and is expected to remain open as long as parts of the community remain under an evacuation order.
Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, however, told CP24 on Saturday morning that the neighbourhood around the Humber River downtown is still considered a “disaster area” for now.
He said that city workers have been monitoring the Humber River and preparing for potential flooding for “more than a week” but were unable to predict where ice jams might develop.
“This wasn’t a problem area (previously). The ice jams and the trees that have frozen with it have come down the streams and have jammed up here. If you looked here yesterday morning nothing looked like it was going to be a problem,” he said. “It wasn’t until 7 p.m. when everything started to get caught up in the trees on the riverbanks and around the bridge structures and it started to pile up. Yesterday morning there was no issue at all.”
Officials with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority are currently on scene, as are Ontario Provincial Police and firefighters.
A nearby Hampton Inn is housing some households for the night at no charge.
Bailey said that while plunging temperatures overnight did “slow up” the flow of water, it has also created icy conditions that will pose further complications for homeowners.
“Now we are dealing with ice and some of the homes that don’t have power and don’t have heat we will be worrying about that as well given some of the freezing around the foundations and in the basements,” he said.
Though now dry, King Street is still closed from David Street to Evans Ridge Road due the presence of heavy equipment and emergency vehicles.
The road could re-open sometime tomorrow.