Intense thunderstorms bringing torrential rains overnight washed out roads and caused power outages across the district.
And work crews are bracing for even more flooding as up to 100 mm more rain is expected by Monday night.
As of press time at noon Monday, motorists hoping to get to Atikokan, Thunder Bay, Dryden, and Kenora were out of luck because of highway closures.
Those closed included Highway 11 east of Highway 502, Highway 502 11 km north of Highway 11, Highway 602 between Highway 611 and Highway 613, Highway 71 some 23 km south of Sioux Narrows, and Highway 594 at Eagle River.
“[On] Highway 11 near Seine River First Nations, there’s a 14-foot hole and the road is going to wash out,” OPP Sgt. Dave Saunders noted.
“We’ve had steady calls of roads washed out all over the region,” he added.
He urged drivers to be very careful and to drive slowly since any part of the highway could have water across it.
“We’re experiencing flooding conditions all over town,” Raymond Roy, superintendent of operations for the Town of Fort Frances, noted Monday morning.
“The subway is flooded and the pumps are working to capacity, but they can’t keep up.”
Motorists were asked to use McIrvine Road until the subway could be cleared.
“All sewer and lift stalls are fully functional and at maximum capacity,” Roy added. “Once the rain subsides, I’m sure the water will recede.
“All we need is the co-operation of the weather.”
Roy asked people to be patient with crews as they worked to combat the flooding.
Meanwhile, students across the district who ride country buses also were sent home early Monday.
“We have a system of early dismissals in place. A lot of the country roads are at risk of being washed out,” Terry Ellwood, superintendent of education for the Rainy River District School Board, said.
“The buses are going to get kids home before it gets any worse.”
The storms also caused power outages throughout the district due to fallen trees and lightning strikes.
“A tree came down on a line and caused an outage to the central part of town,” Mark McCaig, president of the Fort Frances Power Corp., said Monday morning.
The outage occurred Sunday morning, leaving about 300 customers were without power for 90 minutes as crews removed the trees.
Work crews also dealt with a broken pole in the storm, but little else here in town.
“We’ve had very little problems,” McCaig noted. “Our system is not prone to a lot of outages in storms like out in the country.”
Hydro One reported about 4,000 customers from Rainy Lake to Morson lost power at 11:53 p.m. last night due to the storm. Power was restored by 4:30 a.m.
The Kitchen Creek Golf and Country Club also was closed Monday due to the storm but assistant club pro Brian Johnstone said it was too soon to assess any damage caused by flooding.
The cause of Sunday night’s spectacular pyrotechnic display was an intense system from the Dakotas that extended over Northwestern Ontario, Environment Canada forecaster Peter Staples said Monday morning.
“The thunderstorm cells were slow-moving and a releasing a large amount of rain over the area, probably causing flooding,” Staples noted.
He said that between 50 and 60 mm of rain was dumped in most of the region, but that Mine Centre reported receiving 144.6 mm of rainfall.
“Locally, between 50 and 100 mm is still to come by tonight,” Staples warned.
He said thunderstorms are slated to end by tonight, but that another weaker weather system is set to dump even more rain here Wednesday.
“The ground is soaked now and any additional rainfall on top of that will cause flooding,” Staples said.