Northern Ontario flooding may cause millions in damage
Published Saturday, October 27, 2012 3:32PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:30PM EDT
Officials in the northern Ontario town of Wawa estimate that damage from a record amount of flooding in the area will run into the tens of millions of dollars.
The town has been under a state of emergency since late Thursday, when heavy rains washed out the area’s main roadways and damaged the local hospital as well as a car dealership, which crumbled into a large sinkhole.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, town officials said that while the rain stopped some 36 hours ago, “the runoff continues to cause severe problems” as they go about assessing the extent of the damage.
“Wawa is a large area, and we are now only beginning to understand the depth of the damage due to this flooding,” Wawa Mayor Linda Nowicki said in the statement.
Nowicki said she has asked the province for “materials and equipment” to help repair local roadways. The mayor has requested that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing declare Wawa a disaster area so the town may qualify for extra assistance.
The ministry told The Canadian Press that it is reviewing the town’s circumstances and communicating with local officials.
None of the town’s 3,000 residents was injured in the flooding. However, the heavy rains caused a creek to overflow and wash out a large section of Highway 17, which leads into town.
The main road through town, Highway 101, was closed, as was another road that leads to the nearby Michipicoten First Nation, a community of 700 people southwest of Wawa.
"They have no access in or out," Nowicki told The Canadian Press.
An evacuation order was issued for the community, and rescue workers spent Saturday airlifting the elderly and those in need of medical care to Wawa.
The rest of the community is expected to be evacuated in the coming days.
Police said Saturday that phone service, including access to 911, remains out in Dubreuilville, Hawk Junction and Missinabie.
While officials assess the damage, they did say that parts of Highway 17 could reopen within days.
The town said in its statement that the southbound portion leading to Sault Ste. Marie could reopen in two days, while northbound lanes to White River may remain closed for at least another week.
With files from The Canadian Press