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Flooding is seen in Brantford, Ont., on Feb. 21, 2018.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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.

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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.

In Orangeville, Ont., police continued to search for a three-year-old boy who went missing after his mother's van plunged into the water around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The woman was able to drag her son from the van, but lost her grip, and the boy was swept downstream, provincial police said.

"It's been more than 24 hours, the water is extremely cold there's a very slim change he'd be alive," said Const. Paul Nancekivell. "Our goal right now is to find (his body) and get some closure and peace to the family."

Officials have cautioned the public not to go near the river, saying they do not want to see any more tragedy caused by flooding.

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One of thousands of people forced from their homes due to flooding in Brantford, Ont., thanked first responders for keeping things “under control.” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne came to the city on Wednesday. The Canadian Press
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