“This is a dangerous situation”, Brantford mayor says. “Stay away from the river.”

BRANTFORD — Brantford Mayor Chris Friel has a stern warning for city residents to stay away from the flood waters overflowing the Grand River.

“Stay away from the river. Stay away from the evacuated areas if a road is closed do not move the pylon to go down and take pictures. This is not a family event,” said Friel during a press conference Thursday morning to provide updates on the situation.

Friel said,“I was shocked at the number of vehicles that were pulling up with families that were coming out with young children to come and take a look at this. This is a dangerous situation. People need to use common sense here. Stay away from the river.”

Officials with the GRCA told media that water levels in the Grand that usually hover at around half a meter deep during a normal summer flow rose to nearly 7 meters at the highest point.

Waters crested in a second rise Wednesday morning as a surge from the Nith River travelled down the watershed.

Friel said the water levels were closer to 6 meters Wednesday morning. Evacuation orders are currently still in effect for those displaced by the flood and will remain in effect.

Friel called the ongoing flood “a very dynamic situation, unpredictable and high risk”.

City officials will conduct a reassessment this afternoon with the Ministry of Transportation continuing to inspect the integrity of bridges. Friel said the pedestrian bridge south of the Lorne Bridge sustained damage and will remain closed. All bridges and road closures also remain in effect until further notice.

Another complicating factor is a large ice jam that is still upstream. Friel said he travelled to the area to take a look and said “It is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

Part of the difficulty, he says, is that that lump of ice, trees and debris is not moving.

“At some point this ice jam will break and we have to be giving awareness to those downstream from us that this situation — what we are dealing with locally — it will be moving down the river,” said Friel.

Friel said the Coast Guard are moving ice at the mouth of the Grand at Lake Erie away today to make sure any more ice coming down the river will not jam at the mouth of the river. Ice has cleared from the river in the southern part of the watershed, giving officials hopes the remaining ice and debris will flow quickly downstream.

Nearly 1000 homes are affected by utitilites outages in the affected areas including homes not under evacuation order. Friel warns those residents to not try to heat their homes with propane heaters or bringing a barbecue indoors — and to call the city for help with temporary accomodations.

Union Gas and Brantford Power say that they are working together to ensure public safety for residents in the affected area.

Both agencies say they are trying to restore service as quickly as possible.

Friel says there is no estimate of when affected residents will be able to return home. “We are still in the flooding event and we are still in response mode. And people should expect that today and overnight that we will be in that same position.”

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