A state of emergency was declared in Brantford Wednesday morning due to what the city’s mayor called a “shocking” level of flooding from the Grand River.

City officials said evacuations were mandatory in the Holmedale, Eagle Place and Old West Brant neighbourhoods.

An estimated 4,900 people in 2,200 homes were affected by the evacuation order.

Several schools near the river was closed, as were the Brantford Charity Casino and the Market Street parkade.

“If they haven’t already, residents in this area should immediately evacuate north of the floodplain area,” Mayor Chris Friel said at a press conference.

Specifically, evacuations were being ordered on all areas in yellow on this map:

Police officers were going door-to-door in Eagle Place, visiting homes where evacuations were encouraged and warning residents about the potential danger. Specific streets affected in that neighbourhood, according to the city, included Foster Street, Cayuga Street, Aberdeen Avenue, Strathcona Avenue, Pontiac Street, Tecumseh Street, Ontario Street, Port Street, Eagle Avenue, Robertson Avenue and Baldwin Avenue.

A number of major roads in the city were closed due to the high water levels, including the Lorne Bridge along Colborne Street, Veterans Memorial Parkway, Gilkison Road and Grand River Avenue. All trails near the river were also closed.

The Woodman Park Community Centre at 491 Grey Street was set up as an emergency shelter for people with nowhere else to go. A second shelter was opened in the gymnasium of Assumption College at 257 Shellard’s Lane.

According to Grand River Conservation Authority data, flows through Brantford peaked at more than 3,000 cubic metres per second around 8:30 a.m.

During the 1974 flood – generally considered one of the worst in the Grand’s history – flows in Brantford topped out at 1,800 cubic metres per second.

“The level and the height of the water is something that most people have not seen in this community for a very, very long time,” Friel said.

Authorities warned that people should stay away from the river for their own safety.

“This is not a viewing spectacle. This is a dangerous situation that remains dynamic,” Friel said.

“Stay away from the river – and that is not just for today or this afternoon or this evening, that will be for the next couple days at least.”

Dwight Boyd, the Grand River Conservation Authority’s director of engineering, said river levels had stabilized Wednesday morning but would remain high through Thursday as water from the Grand and Nith rivers made its way through Brantford.

Boyd said the suddenness of the flooding was due to a “dynamic” situation created by ice jams, including one near the Lorne Bridge and one downstream of the city.

The ice jams restricted the ability of water to flow through those areas, causing backups in parts of Brantford upstream of the jams.

“How it erodes or releases will determine how quickly levels will recede,” Boyd said.

“If the water erodes the ice and finds a good path through, you may see levels drop.”

Additionally, Boyd said, an ice jam in Cambridge broke early Wednesday morning, sending water and ice surging downstream.

Emergency preparations were also underway in Six Nations, which sits downstream of Brantford.

The latest information on the city's response to the flooding can be found on the city's website.