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State of emergency declared as Thames River dike fails in Chatham-Kent

A state of emergency is being declared in Chatham-Kent.

The Thames River dike has failed in multiple locations around Poppe Road and Buchanan Line in Tilbury, according to a release from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Municipal staff are on scene and people are asked to avoid the area so the emergency repairs can be made, according to Chatham-Kent’s general manager of infrastructure and engineering services Thomas Kelly.

Police have also started knocking on doors in the area of the breach to notify residents of the failure and repairs.

Emergency officials: ‘serious situation’

Chris Case, operations chief for Chatham-Kent emergency and fire services said overnight the ice shifted and water levels dropped.

“However, we found that there was a problem with the dike. They’ve been on the scene since 2 a.m.,” said Case, adding that they were preparing for the dike to fail.

“When the dike fails it can flood homes, cause trouble with transport,” said Case. “It’s a very serious situation when that occurs.”

The state of emergency declaration provides the municipality with extra funding and resources to deal with the flooding.

“We have our teams on standby,” said Case.

Declaring a state of emergency shows the public it’s a serious issue, said Chatham-Kent communications officer Jim Blake.

“It’s unfortunately a fact of life living in a flat area close to a river,” said Blake. “It’s a concern. The businesses and low-lying homes that are affected.”

The breach in the river is mostly affecting farmlands, but Blake said the flooding looks significant.

Last year, a state of emergency was declared and residents were then able to apply for emergency financial assistance.

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