Grand River likely to flood


“BE FLOOD AWARE” warns a City of Brantford mobilesign. By Nathanael Lewis.
“BE FLOOD AWARE” warns a City of Brantford mobilesign. By Nathanael Lewis.

With each spring comes a season full of decision-making. Should one opt for a coat or sweater? Is it really necessary to tote an umbrella?

Despite the variety-packed nature of the season, according to authorities, one choice to make this spring should be painstakingly obvious: stay away from the Grand River.

Police were called late Thursday afternoon when three youths were spotted walking on the river near the Lorne Bridge. The group managed to cross the ice safely, but police are urging citizens to recognize that the river is dangerous and unpredictable.

Similarly, an emergency response team from Haldimand, Six Nations and Brant were called to the Grand River near Caledonia on Thursday evening upon reports of a woman walking her dog near two holes on the ice.

Zodiac boats and rescue material were on site as authorities canvased the area, finding that the woman had safely returned to her home.

“Unlike ponds, where ice can freeze consistently, river ice thickness can vary significantly due to the underlying currents,” police said in Friday’s public safety report, “should you fall through the ice on a river there is the possibility that the current can sweep you under other ice.”

This time of year, the risky landscape of the river goes beyond the issue of thin ice. It is a season in which the temperature highs and lows have juxtaposed the water’s temperament between that of freezing and flooding.

Flooding this time of year is a particular risk for low-lying neighbourhoods like West-Brant, Eagle Place and Homedale.

For the first time, the city of Brantford has taken to using mobile road signs as a means to warn citizens about the potential for floods.

The signs, which read “Be Flood Aware”, are meant to help warn and prepare people who do not typically access media or the city website.

“We know that there is more snow in the watershed this year. Although the dykes protect the city, we do not want to be complacent,” said Inspector Scott Easto of the Brantford Police Service.

This past winter’s cold temperatures, above average snowfall and lack of mid-winter thaw have generated a substantial snowpack in the Grand River’s watershed, “In some areas it is close to record high levels” according to the City of Brantford.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) is asking that the public stay informed about the status of the river, and not to go near the banks until the area stabilizes.

“Resist the urge to tour flooded areas. You may be putting your own life at risk and could interfere with the work of emergency responders,” GRCA officials said in a statement about flood preparedness.

The homepage of the GRCA website has a community flood indicator, a tool to help the public monitor flood status along the river.

In the case of imminent flooding, the GRCA wants to remind the public to follow the instructions of emergency response officials, be prepared for possible evacuation and to ensure that pets are not left alone.

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