Crews with the City of Kenora plan to open up a number of roadways in the evacuated area to let residents back in their homes today.

The City of Kenora scheduled a regional media conference late this afternoon as leadership expected an update from its lead engineer on the state of roadways in the evacuated area of Kenora, after last night’s inspection and re-evaluation.

Kenora’s Fire Chief and Community Emergency Management Coordinator, Kent Readman, says this has allowed the city to reduce the size of its ongoing evacuation zone, and now only includes homes reached by three roadways that remain closed.

Roadways that remain closed include:

Essex Road through the Hooterville Trail, up through Begg’s Loop and Begg’s Road,
School Road,
Coker Road at Kelly Road, but the other side of Coker is open at East Melick Road,

“There are some unstable areas and flooded areas that we still have concerns about with people travelling on them,” explained Readman.

The city says the evacuation zone’s reduction now gives residents access back to 223 of the 312 properties that have been affected by the evacuation order.

“The roads that are reopened, there will still be areas that require some maintenance moving forward. Everyone should travel according to conditions. There will be some rough spots, but everything is passable to get through there.”

Readman says crews will reassess the closed roads once again next week, and work to repair roadways is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

The City of Kenora issued its initial Evacuation Notice for flooded areas on May 12, before upgrading the notice to an Evacuation Order for all residents north of the by-pass and north of the Portier Bridge on May 13.

“There is still the evacuation zone, and there is more rain in the forecast. We’re hoping we don’t see a big impact from that, but we’ll have to judge that as it happens. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and the water levels on those roads.”

The Lake of the Woods area and northwestern Ontario as a whole have seen severe flooding situations this spring, with water levels on Lake of the Woods nearing their all-time record after record-high snow and rainfall over the winter and spring.

Sandbags continue to be available at Fire Station 1, 100 14th Street North for Kenora residents. There is also sand available just down from the Fire Station on 14th Street North on the north side of the street near the Operations Centre. Unorganized residents can pick up bags at the MNRF office on Robertson Street.

Readman notes some of the sandbags were provided by the province, which is the only assistance the city has seen so far after issuing its State of Emergency earlier this month, which allows municipalities the opportunity to access funding through provincial and federal governments.

''A map of the reopened roadways courtesy of the City of Kenora.