The City of Brantford issued a state of emergency and called for an immediate evacuation Wednesday, after heavy rain and ice jams in the Grand River caused widespread flooding.

Roughly 2,200 homes and up to 4,900 people were impacted by the early morning evacuation, according to Brantford Mayor Chris Friel.

Friel told CTV News Channel Wednesday afternoon that residents won’t be allowed to return to their homes until at least Thursday.

The good news, according to Friel, is that the ice jam that was the “biggest concern” had broken up, so it was likely just a matter of waiting for the high water to recede.

Friel said the water was so high at one point that it was running over the deck of a pedestrian bridge used by residents to cross the river.

Residents living in the areas of Holmedale, Old West Brant, and Eagle Palace were among those affected by the evacuation.

Oliver Zuder was one of the unlucky ones. He told CTV Toronto that his basement had about nine feet (three metres) of water in it.

Those seeking shelter were advised to go to Brantford’s Woodman Community Centre or Assumption College.

Pets are welcome at the community centre, where they will be picked up by the Brant SPCA for shelter, according to the city.

The state of emergency was issued just days after the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) issued a widespread flood warning for the entire Grand River watershed.

The GRCA updated its flood warning on Tuesday afternoon, urging residents along the river to be extremely cautious.

“Banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are very slippery at this time and, when combined with current weather conditions, pose a serious hazard,” the GRCA said.

“Parents are encouraged to keep their children and pets away from all watercourses and off frozen water bodies, which will be extremely unsafe as a result of the warming trend,” the GRCA added.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Brantford Wednesday evening, where she thanked first responders and city officials.

“They’ve been doing a wonderful job making sure that people are safe, making sure there is no danger for folks in their homes,” she said.

“I know there has been damage,” the premier added. “We don’t know the extent of it at this point, but I just wanted to say that everyone here is doing everything they can.”

Child swept away

Nearly 100 kilometres away in Orangeville, Ont., police said a minivan was swept into the river, after a mother drove past a road block put in place due to flooding.

Police said they were searching for a three-year-old boy, who was ripped from the mother’s arms after they exited the minivan.

With files from CTV Toronto, CP24 and CTV Kitchener