Concern that storm surge on Lake Erie's shoreline getting worse
PORT DOVER, Ont. -- It was the kind of Lake Erie storm surge that Port Dover residents say hasn't been seen in decades.
While many homeowners and business owners along the lakefront prepare for these types of events, some worry they’re going to see more of them.
Monday was an almost perfect late-October day, with sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the mid-teens. But Sunday was a very different story.
In Port Dover, lake waters filled the streets with the combination of high lake levels and gusting winds contributing to the deluge.
One business owner says water on Walker Street in Port Dover was up to his knees,"One o'clock is when the big surge happened. And, after that, I have no idea when it ended. It just seemed like forever."
Peter Knechtel and his family own Callahan’s Beach House Restaurant along with a number of businesses in the community. Knechtel remembers similar surges, but that was about 30 years ago.
"It happened to us back in '86 quite a bit; '86 to '90. We've had some relatively low-water years up until now."
Knechtel says no one knows the Great Lakes better than commercial fisherman. And businesses along the lakefront rely on the fishermen to give them a heads up as to what the weather and the winds might do.
In this case they were told don't worry, the winds are going to shift before noon, when the most fierce weather was expected, so it shouldn't be a problem. The winds did shift. And then they shifted back.
Communities like Turkey Point also saw extensive flooding. In fact, water still sat like small ponds on Turkey Point streets through Monday afternoon.
What concerned Norfolk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk is that, even after barricades were put up simply went past them and along heavily flooded streets.
“If you're driving through a fully submerged roadway, where water's halfway up your door, coming over the hood of your vehicle. You don't know if that road has a sinkhole, you don't know if you're going to go into a sinkhole. You don't know what type of debris is underneath that road."
Those vehicles also sent waves of water crashing against businesses, adding to water damage inside. Business owners believe a more coordinated community strategy to deal with storm surge events should be considered.
Sanchuk says the other concern was pedestrians wading through the water. He says there’s always a risk a sudden undertow could sweep them into the lake.