UPDATE: Evacuation orders lifted in Brantford Thursday evening

 Residents of a southwestern Ontario city are being allowed back into their homes as the risk of flooding from a swollen river recedes.

 Officials in Brantford, Ont., say an evacuation order affecting nearly 5,000 residents was lifted Thursday evening after water levels on the Grand River went down.

 The city had declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and ordered residents in neighbourhoods near the river to leave their homes.

 Officials say residents still need to be extremely cautious around all bodies of water and warned that banks near rivers and creeks were very slippery.

 The city also says the Ministry of Transportation has approved the reopening of several bridges and roads that had been off limits during the flooding.

 Torrential rains and mild temperatures earlier in the week had pushed the Grand River to breach its banks in communities as far as 100 kilometres away.  

“The city wishes to extend our sincere gratitude to our federal and provincial counterparts who are fully aware of the situation and offered a full host of resources and assistance as required,” the city said earlier today. “The Ministry of Transportation will be onsite to assess structural soundness of the three road bridges impacted in the evacuation area as well as two pedestrian bridges.”

Officials have said that the flooding in Brantford was exacerbated by an ice jam that developed early Wednesday morning.

Speaking with CTV News Toronto, Mayor of Brantford Chris Friel said the ice jam came to a halt Thursday afternoon.

“Just after 2 p.m. today it flushed right through then we had another bridge that was blocked there and it was flowed through and the last one it flowed through then we were able to move to lifting the evacuation order and getting people back into their homes,” he said.

But, Friel said residents should still be wary of water damage in their homes.

“We are very cautious of making sure people understand that there are still extreme risks,” he said. “If your property has been flooded we will be there to work with you and those areas that have had hydro and gas turned off they’re starting already – hydro can be turned on as early as tonight for some customers and gas will be in at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning for those affected areas going door-to-door to turn gas back on for individuals.”

A total of seven schools that are in the impacted neighbourhoods were closed on Thursday.


with files from CTV News