A transport truck driver has died after his vehicle plunged into a 10-foot-deep sinkhole caused by once-in-a-century rain and flooding outside London, Ontario.
Ontario Provincial Police said the 59-year-old driver from Mississauga was killed when a section of Dundonald Road, Glencoe’s main thoroughfare, collapsed.
Environment Canada calls isolated rain Wednesday night southwest of London a 100-year event that has left homeowners with soaked basements and drivers still stunned by the closure of a major road.
The weather service said just over 135mm of rain fell in a short period of time, with more showers in the forecast for Thursday.
“We warn people when 50 millimeters of rain falls in 24 hours, that is, almost double,” said meteorologist Trudy Kidd.
Drivers traveling west of Strathroy around 6 p.m. ET Wednesday found themselves with their wheels in the water.
Emergency services were forced to close the road for more than 12 hours overnight and water flowed across the road and over the median, between Nauvoo Road and Kerwood Road.
In addition to the fatal incident on Dundonald Road, police reported numerous accidents due to flooding on roads in Middlesex and Lambton counties.
“I’ve never seen so much rain so fast in our community,” said Warwick Township Mayor Todd Case. “When you reach five to six inches [127 to 152 mm] of rain in a very short period of time, there’s no developed infrastructure in Canada that can handle that.”
First responders worked through the night to block roads and help where needed, Case said.
“All the workers have been working for the past several hours to close numerous roads that have been washed out and redirect traffic.”
There were still closures on Thursday morning, including Dundonald Road, which was expected to remain closed for several weeks. The OPP did reopen the 402 freeway at 7 am
Neighbors unite to respond to flooding
Glencoe residents spent the night mitigating flooded basements and roads, along with accumulated sewage escaping from sinks and toilets.
“The rain just came. It was torrential,” said James Parker, who lives on Main Street with his daughter Cassandra.
He added that he had not experienced anything like it in his 12 years of living there.
“It was non-stop. Within an hour or an hour and a half, there was a foot [nearly 31 cm] of water.”
Neighbors rallied in response, bringing water pumps and hoses to other people’s properties and even fetching water by hand when they could. The Parkers and many others had up to four feet of water in their basements.
“I’m worried,” Cassandra said of Thursday’s rain forecast for the area. “It’s already too much damage. This city can’t take it, I don’t think so.”
Just east of Parkers on Mill Street, Jamie Shields took the day off in Chatham to supervise three water pumps pulling water from his father and stepmother’s basement.
Shields was at a nephew’s birthday party when it started to rain on Wednesday. It wasn’t long before he and the other guests had to leave to care for his property, some vehicles getting caught in the rapidly rising water on their way out.
His parents had just finished repairing their basement after a previous flood.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime storm, so I don’t know how to prepare for something like this.”
Warwick Township has issued an alert directing drivers to avoid the following streets:
- Sexton Road between Zion Line and Egremont Road.
- Bethel Road from Egremont Road to the Birman Line.
- Warwick Village Road accesses the Warwick Conservation Area South London Line.
- Zion Line between Nauvoo Rd and London Line.
- Warwick Village Road between Birnam Line and Hickory Creek.
- Hickory Creek Line from Elarton to Forest Road.
- Kingscourt between Confederation Line and Egremont.