April 23, 2013 — States of emergency remain in place for several central Ontario communities. While water levels are starting to recede in some places, emergency officials are warning residents to stay away from all waterways.
Central Ontario communities hit hard by flooding remain on alert with more rain in the forecast this week.
Seven communities in Ontario cottage country declared states of emergency over the weekend as they grappled with flooding that submerged roads and forced dozens of people to evacuate waterlogged homes.
Though water levels still remain high, flooding along the major rivers has peaked, said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Natural Resources on Monday.
"My understanding is that this is record levels in a number of locations," she said. "They're calling it the one in a 100 year type flood."
The communities aren't out of the woods yet, she said.
"The water does move in different ways," Kowalski said, "but it's a good thing that the water levels have peaked and then things are starting to come down, but there could still be some localized flooding."
As a result, residents who have been evacuated are urged to stay away from their homes until conditions improve.
Officials say road conditions in some areas continue to change as well, so extreme caution is required when travelling.
In Bracebridge, the levels of the north and south branches of the Muskoka River appear to have peaked, though they're not expected to drop for at least another few days, said the town's chief administrative officer, John Sisson.
"These are just anecdotally exceeding anything that people have seen over the past number of years," he said.
Rain is expected mid-week, but the community is hoping it will only have a minimal impact on the flooding, Sisson said.
An official with the city of Kawartha Lakes says the level of the Burnt River dropped 30 centimetres Sunday night, though it is still almost a metre above normal levels for this time of year.
An update from Huntsville on Monday said the flooding seems to have peaked downtown and other areas in the municipality have seen water levels drop.
Ontario Minister of Community Safety Madeleine Meilleur issued a statement Sunday saying she has spoken to a number of mayors of communities affected by the flooding and offered government support.
Residents are reminded to stay a safe distance from waterways, as banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are extremely slippery. That combined with cold, fast-moving water can pose a serious hazard.
"The flow of the water forces erosion of the shorelines and we don't want anyone to slip and fall and get caught up in the flow," says Constable Skeeter Kruger with the Ontario Provincial Police. "If they get caught up in it, there's all kinds of debris such as things like picnic tables, that could be fatal if someone gets swept up in this cold, fast moving water."
With files from The Canadian Press