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Wawa under state of emergency after heavy rain causes flooding

Photo shows damage to Wawa’s Northern Lights Motel. Maureen Hutchinson-Parker for the Globe and Mail

Provincial authorities are warning motorists to stay off roads in the Wawa area unless absolutely necessary after heavy rain overnight washed out the Trans-Canada Highway and cut off several communities.

Police say Highway 17 at Wawa is closed in both directions as a result of high water levels that eroded the road, and the Northern Ontario town remains under a state of emergency.

Wawa Mayor Linda Nowicki said there have been no reports of injuries.

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She said the rain has stopped and there is no flooding in the town itself, but there are concerns because the damaged roads have left surrounding communities cut off.

OPP say several 911 distress calls have been received from area residents and police are using helicopters to access the locations.

One family has been removed via helicopter and police have returned to the area to locate a second resident.

Ms. Nowicki said the main road through town – Highway 101 – which was closed for several hours, has now been reopened.

Police advise motorists to drive with caution for the first 10 kilometres when leaving Wawa on Highway 101.

Residents on Michipicoten First Nation and Long Beach Road are currently unable to leave those areas due to road erosion in multiple places, police said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said there's been a disruption of 911 services at the first nation and Dubreuilville, but Bell Canada is working to fix it.

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The government has been in touch with Ms. Nowicki to offer support. Emergency Management Ontario is ready to help if necessary, he added.

"It is my understanding the situation is improving and that one road is now passable," he said in a statement.

"We'll continue to monitor progress closely, and we are prepared, if called upon, to take action to help the people of Wawa and the Michipicoten First Nation."

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