FLOOD­ING TAKES HEAVY TOLL

Storm causes ma­jor home dam­age

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - JULIE KOTSIS jkot­sis@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/JulieKot­sis

LaSalle res­i­dent Larry Greco was ex­pect­ing a re­lax­ing week­end at his sum­mer home on Leamington’s Mar­entette Beach. When he ar­rived Fri­day morn­ing he was pre­pared to bring out the deck fur­ni­ture and do some spring cleanup. But those plans soon went astray as a storm started brew­ing over Lake Erie, pro­duc­ing ever-stronger winds and grow­ing waves that be­gan breach­ing and bang­ing over his break­wall.

“We had waves from any­where from 10- to 12-feet high,” Greco said, adding the lake wa­ter ran over­land and into the canal that sep­a­rates Mar­entette Beach from the main­land.

There was four feet of wa­ter over the road­way at its high­est point, clos­ing the only way in and out on four wheels, he said.

“The canal was high, the waves were com­ing over and the winds were just un­be­liev­able,” Greco said. “And it kept blow­ing and blow­ing and the re­sult is it did a lot of shore­line dam­age and prob­a­bly we lost two to three homes out here. (They) prob­a­bly will have to be torn down.

“I stayed here be­cause the wa­ter was high. I couldn’t drive out of here.”

Six homes were de­stroyed on the south­ern end of Mar­entette Beach, ac­cord­ing to Tim Byrne, di­rec­tor of wa­ter­shed man­age­ment for the Es­sex Re­gion Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

“There may be as many as a dozen homes that are no longer hab­it­able,” Byrne said. “We’ve got mu­nic­i­pal in­fras­truc­ture that was wiped out. We’ve got a sec­tion of Cot­terie Park Road where the road sur­face was ac­tu­ally de­stroyed so it’s in­ac­ces­si­ble.

“There is sig­nif­i­cant dam­age on homes and prop­er­ties, sig­nif­i­cant break­wall dam­age,” he said. “The amount of dam­age that we’re look­ing at here is in the mil­lions. We’re only now just look­ing at and try­ing to do dam­age as­sess­ments.” Greco es­ti­mated the dam­age to his prop­erty at be­tween $10,000 and $15,000 af­ter his wooden deck was washed away and his roof lost shin­gles. But he con­sid­ers him­self for­tu­nate com­pared to some of his neigh­bours.

He mon­i­tored his base­ment sump pumps, which man­aged to keep pace with the wa­ter that was rush­ing in. Thank­fully, he didn’t lose power dur­ing the storm. “If we would have lost power it would have been a lot more dev­as­tat­ing,” Greco said. “To­day, ev­ery­body ’s in shock. The best thing that hap­pened is that no­body was hurt.”

John Ju­rak, pres­i­dent of the Mar­entette Beach As­so­ci­a­tion, said own­ers of the ap­prox­i­mately 60 dwellings on the beach were up­dated on the storm’s progress dur­ing the week­end via email and many were out help­ing each other on Mon­day morn­ing.

“I’ve had a cot­tage here for eight years and I’ve never seen it like this,” Ju­rak said. “There’s about five or six res­i­dences that have ex­treme dam­age.”

ERCA’s Byrne was also out Mon­day morn­ing trav­el­ling through af­fected ar­eas as a flood watch for the west coast of Leamington, Point Pelee Na­tional Park and Pelee Is­land was up­graded to a flood warn­ing.

The week­end weather sys­tem that led to a flood warn­ing for the east coast of Leamington on Satur­day was ex­pected to dis­si­pate, but in­stead stalled over the area, lead­ing to the new warn­ing, which is in ef­fect un­til Tues­day morn­ing when a re­assess­ment based on the weather fore­cast will be made. “The en­tire re­gion — City of Wind­sor, County of Es­sex and Pelee Is­land — is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing now un­usual cli­matic events where our spring weather is hang­ing on to late-win­ter tem­per­a­tures and storm-type events,” Byrne said, adding high lake lev­els are on the up­swing and there is a “high prob­a­bil­ity of meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing 1986 lev­els, which are all-time record high lev­els for our area.” Point Pelee Na­tional Park was closed to vis­i­tors Sun­day at noon but re­opened Mon­day. Ar­eas of the park re­mained off lim­its due to flood­ing con­di­tions. “Most of east side of the park, in­clud­ing the Marsh Board­walk park­ing lot, all the trails on the east side of the park, the south­ern last kilo­me­tre of the road­way to the tip, are closed be­cause of flood con­di­tions,” spokes­woman Monique Ol­trop said.

“At this time we’re think­ing that the flood con­di­tions are im­prov­ing. It was prob­a­bly at its worst (Sun­day) af­ter­noon.” Ol­trop said she couldn’t re­call such se­vere flood­ing in re­cent mem­ory but said the park should be no worse for wear once the wa­ter sub­sides.

“We as­sume that af­ter the wa­ter re­cedes we will have to do some re­pair­ing of trails but that there will be no long-term dam­age at this point,” she said.

DAX MELMER

Larry Greco, vice-pres­i­dent of the Mar­entette Beach As­so­ci­a­tion, sur­vey the dam­age done to homes along the eastern shore near Point Pelee af­ter a strong week­end storm. Greco es­ti­mates his prop­erty re­ceived $10,000-to-$15,000 dam­age.

DAX MELMER

Randy Stroud tries to clear the drain in front of his Cot­terie Park Road home on Mon­day north of Hill­man Marsh.

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