Is there an emergency in your area?
- check for Current Flood Messages from MNRF & local Conservation Authorities
- updates from Emergency Management Ontario
- visit Environment Canada’s website for weather information and notices
NOTE: All flood advisories are not the same. Flood message definitions (watch, warning, etc.) can be found here (near the bottom of that page)
Are you Prepared for Flooding?
Ontario cottage-country communities should be vigilant especially in the spring, as this is the time of year when we can experience lots of melting snow and ice, heavy rainfalls, and high water flows on lakes and rivers. Conditions can change quickly, so being prepared in advance is the best possible approach.
FOCA and our local associations remind all homeowners to take measures to protect themselves and their belongings. Cottage country buildings, docks, and boathouses located in or near the floodplain are at particular risk.
Preventative action can minimize loss, but overland flooding is a real risk for those located in a flood plain or close to rivers or lakes.
3 ways to be flood ready (Government of Canada)
People don’t understand their flood risk. So why would you do anything about it?
May 2, 2017 – Partners For Action is working on a national communications strategy on flood risk, to talk with one voice and one message: governments, insurance, academia, non-governmental organizations, to get the message across. Read more.
FOCA is a member of the stakeholder advisory group for the Partners for Action.
According to an RBC Canadian Water Attitudes survey (released March 25, 2015), 55% of surveyed Canadians felt they were not very, or not at all, prepared to deal with the uninsured losses resulting from a flood. From the same survey, people that have experienced flooding are 1.5 times more likely to take steps to flood-proof their homes!
Critical risk factors for waterfront homes:
- If you have buildings, docks, boathouses, decks, equipment, boats, stored or located in the floodplain, or near the high water level of your nearby lake or river – you may be at risk.
- If your lot is not graded so that water flows away from your house, overland flows may impact your foundation or basement
- Poorly drained lots (frozen or shallow soils, rock, or clay) can cause poor surface drainage. Runoff from heavy rain or melting snow can result in standing water, flooding, foundation settlement or damage, or basement dampness. A well-planned drainage system will help keep your lot, and your neighbour’s, free of standing water.
What you can do:
- Clear eavestroughs and downspouts – if safe to do so – to direct water away from your home.
- Ask someone to check your property if you are away for extended periods.
- Review your insurance policies – call your insurance professional if you have questions about your coverage, particularly related to overland water.
- Move valuable items from the basement to upper floors.
- Steps to take after a flood (Government of Canada)
- Dry any flooded areas quickly, to prevent mold growth. Industrial-sized air dryers are often used in these instances and are typically available for purchase or rent at one of the major hardware stores. If the water is from a freshwater source, quickly retrieve from the flooded area any valuables. If the flood source originates from the septic system, avoid contact with the water and do not cross-contaminate unaffected areas by walking in and out of the contaminated areas.
(Click the image to download the full 1-page PDF)
Flooding and Insurance Coverage
Flood damage caused by overland flooding is not generally covered by home insurance policies in Canada (though a few companies may now have it available), so it is important to protect yourself from the potential damage of floods. Flooding from sewer or septic system backup may be covered, but in any case it is important to understand your home insurance policy to see if these types of coverages are included.
FOCA reminds members:
- Ontario homes are limited in insurance coverage for damage due to overland water
- seasonal properties are NOT covered by the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program, a provincial financial assistance emergency tool.*
* About ODRAP: The Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) is a provincial financial assistance program intended to alleviate the hardship suffered by private homeowners, farmers, and small businesses whose property has been damaged in a natural disaster declared by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. ODRAP is not an alternative or a substitute for private insurance coverage and risk management. Damage claims should be directed first to insurance companies to determine coverage of individual policies.
May 14, 2017 – Should some homes or cottages be removed from flood plain? (CBC)
May 10, 2017 – Flooded cottage owners ineligible for disaster relief ( Insurance Business )
- Sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances is usually covered by home insurance policies. Water damage in a basement due to a sewer backup is only covered if specific sewer backup coverage has been purchased.
- In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to return home due to insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses.
- Damage to vehicles from water is usually covered if comprehensive or all perils coverage auto insurance has been purchased. This coverage isn’t mandatory, so check your policy.
- Overland flooding resulting in water overflowing onto dry land and causing damage is not covered in home insurance policies in Canada.
For those Ontarians looking for answers, or if they need help with their insurance questions, please call the IBC Consumer Information Centre at 1-800-387-2880. For CottageFirst customers, contact Cade Insurance brokers at 1-844-CADE-1ST (223-3178).
Ontario Emergency preparedness & response
- FOCA asks questions about community emergency preparedness
- Will a changing climate mean changing water conditions for Ontario’s cottagers? Find out more from FOCA’s 2013 Fall meeting, featuring Bob Sandford
- Under the Emergency Management & Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), every municipality must have a designated Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC). CEMC contact information can be gained by contacting your municipal office.
- Read this blog from Conservation Ontario, about flood risks and preparedness: “Flooding Happens, it’s only a matter of time” (Aug.2013)
Links to other water level resources:
Residents located on or near the Trent-Severn Waterway or Rideau Canal should read this Spring Water Flows Update from Parks Canada.
Flooding in Cottage Country in 2013 – FOCA’s Terry Rees was on the road between Muskoka and the Kawarthas during the flooding of the Black and Muskoka rivers in April, 2013. Our Executive Director posted web updates and short video blogs from the field as the water rose. Our online posting that month brought the news to hundreds of affected property owners. Many members reported flood damage.
In the aftermath, FOCA was in contact with MNR’s Surface Water Monitoring Centre, the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW), Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), and county and municipal partners, in an attempt to arrive at more robust and well-understood emergency response communications in rural Ontario. FOCA continues to review water management communications protocols with all these partners.
Third-party reviews of Parks Canada’s actions before, during and after the spring 2013 flooding of the Gull River sub-watershed reported that, “other alternative management decisions would not have led to reduced overall flooding.”
Previously, FOCA had expressed concern about budget cuts and administrative restructuring of the Rideau Canal and TSW. “Of particular concern,” FOCA wrote at the time, “is the capacity of the TSW and the Rideau organizations to deliver watershed-wide water management with reduced resources, the lack of capital funding for maintenance, repair and replacement of structures, as well as the operations of the dams, locks and canals.”
A Recap of FOCA’s posting during 2013 about flooding in cottage country:
- Nov 2013 – Gull River Flooding Review Reveals No Blame to Parks Canada (summary from Water Canada). The review found that staff “performed their jobs to the best of their abilities and their actions helped to avoid further flooding in downstream communities,” and that “other alternative water management decisions would not have led to reduced overall flooding.”
- MP Barry Devolin Press Release re: AECOM report on flooding in 2013 (pdf; 1 page)
- Visit the Parks Canada website to access the full reports: 2011 Water Management Study, and the 2013 Gull River Flood Review.
- The Muskoka Lakes Association also commissioned a third-party report related to the April 2013 flooding in and around the Muskoka Lakes. The key findings are here.
- May 22, 2013 – County of Haliburton sending letters to provincial and federal politicians about recent flooding. FOCA has been in touch with the warden on the issue.
- May 8, 2013 – Lake of Bays mayor estimates damage for residents around $10-million; seeking flood funding.
- A link is now available to the online edition of the May 2nd Haliburton Highlander, including page 4 editorial titled, “Did the Kennisis Dam Damn Minden?” Click here to read…
- May 1st, 2013 – important update for cottage properties in the Minden Hills area: both permanent AND seasonal residents are now being encouraged by the Township to complete a Property Assessment Form if you have flood damage.
- April 2013 notice from FOCA: “Be aware of high water and possible flooding due to spring runoff! FOCA advises everyone to exercise extreme caution near spring waterways, which have reached flood levels in several Ontario regions. FOCA originally posted this news item on April 22nd, Earth Day, which had the theme for 2013 of “The Face of Climate Change.” Ontario saw the effects first-hand, with flooding reported in many regions. A state of emergency was issued for the Burnt River, Black River and Gull River watersheds, with flood warnings in several other regions.”
For 2013, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announced that severe weather caused a record amount of damage in Canada, and Aviva Canada identified water damage as the primary culprit.