The Greater Toronto Area is not Flood Proof

One of the great things about living in the Greater Toronto Area is that our geographic location provides safety from a lot of natural disasters. We’re not prone to hurricanes or monsoons, we’re not hovering over any major tectonic fault lines, we’re not likely to have to clear out due to forest fires any time soon and while they’re not impossible, the area is outside Tornado Alley. A lot of us also used to think we were even safe from the effects of major flooding.

That changed forever on July 8, 2013.

2013 Flood in the GTA

Toronto is no stranger to severe thunderstorms in the summer months. In fact, watching lighting strike the CN Tower from the balcony is a favourite pastime for many downtown residents. When the water level started rising in many Southern Ontario neighbourhoods last July, many of us brushed it off as no big deal. That is, until the flood waters started rising inside many homes. With damages totalling nearly a billion dollars, the flash flooding in Toronto on July 8, 2013 was the most costly natural disaster ever to hit the area.

Life went back to normal in a few days, insurance claims were filed and flood recovery specialists were called in to consult on property damage restoration projects. Everybody assumed this was a fluke event and carried on with their lives. Until it happened again…

2014 Flood in the GTA

This time when the waters started rising, people paid more attention. Toronto residents now understand that it CAN happen here, and we have to be prepared for serious flooding in the area. Environment Canada states that Toronto’s extensive development is at least part of the problem. Natural landscapes absorb some of the water as it hits the ground, but the glass and concrete of the city’s developed areas mean that about 50% of the city is impervious to water. This is a problem that is only going to get worse as more and more land is developed.

Basic Flood Preparation

Since flooding is becoming a more likely event and you can’t move your house to higher ground, the time to take part in basic flood preparation is now. Basic tips to protect your property from flood damage include:

  • Stay calm! Your family’s safety is the most important thing to protect;
  • Move important papers and valuable items to the highest dry point in the house, like the second floor if your house has one;
  • Maintain your home’s exterior, especially any parging that helps protect your foundation from leaks in times of flood;
  • In blackouts during major storms, turn off your power at the source. This will help keep you safe in the event of flooding, and protect your appliances and electronics from damage when the power comes back on.

Be sure to read our recent post on where to go for flood information. Summer is nearly over, but we’re not out of the woods for serious thunderstorms yet. Stay dry, and more importantly, stay safe!

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