Here’s what we know so far about the next steps in recovering from recent flooding:
When sandbags are distributed, they are considered contaminated by the Ministry of the Environment. Residents shouldn’t remove or dispose of them on their own.
Municipal water isn’t a problem. The trouble comes if your well has been flooded. Before using your well again, first water levels must go down, and then it must be tested. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit offers free well water testing kits. If your well is infected, here are steps you can take to disinfect it.
Those who have had their properties flooded, it is recommended you have your septic system inspected. The water saturation creates abnormal amount of pressure in the soil, which can result in broken tanks or dislodged pipes. To have your septic system inspected, contact South Nation Conservation.
If flooding has affected your electrical system (i.e. water is above electrical outlets, baseboard heaters, appliance outlets, etc.) you likely won’t be able to be reconnected until the damage has been assessed. To do so, have a Licensed Electrical Contractor inspect your property. (Find one in your area, here). The contractor will inform the Electrical Safety Authority; it will then inform the utility (likely Hydro One).
Overland flood insurance—which means water coming through doors and windows, and not through a sewage backup—has only been available for a year or so in Canada. Most major insurance companies only started offering it after the Calgary floods in 2013, so if you haven’t updated your policy since then, it is likely you aren’t covered.
Regardless, officials at a recent public meeting in Clarence-Rockland recommended residents go through their insurance policy again. One resident, who wasn’t affected by the flood, said his insurance policy was automatically updated to include overland flood coverage last year.
Government Financial Assistance
Any damage not covered by insurance could eligible for financial assistance under the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians. This is not to be confused with Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance, which municipalities can apply for to get funding to repair public infrastructure damaged by a “sudden, unexpected and extraordinary natural disaster.”
At the meeting in Clarence-Rockland, Stephen Sellers, a representative of the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs, presented the five steps to the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program:
- The disaster occurs
- The damage is assessed by the Ministry
- Based on the information gathered, the Minister, Bill Mauro, then decides to “activate” the program, which means people will be able to apply. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program for Clarence-Rockland, Alfred-Plantagenet and Champlain.
- Residents have 120 days to apply. (This includes small businesses, farms and not-for-profits)
- The Ministry then decides on the claims, which is done through a private company
A few things to keep in mind:
- Only primary residences are available for this assistance
- It is a reimbursement program (items must be purchased and proof of payment kept)
- There is a $250,000 limit per claim
Finally, Sellers said claims should be accompanied by as much supporting documentation as possible: photos, receipts for equipment, invoices for inspections, etc.
Red Cross financial assistance
The Canadian Red Cross, on May 17, announced $4 million in funding for people affected by spring floods in Quebec and Ontario. The money will be distributed in the form of direct financial assistance, with eligible households receiving $600. About $3 million will be distributed among 5,200 households in Quebec and $1 million will be distributed among 1,600 households in Ontario. The assistance will be provided via electronic banking starting next week.
Register for assistance online at redcross.ca/gethelp, or by phone at 1-800-863-6582. If you already registered with the Red Cross, you must re-register. This is because more information is required. Households whose primary residences are within a “recognized flood-impacted area” area eligible, regardless of if members of the household evacuated or stayed at home. You can donate to the Canadian Red Cross Spring Floods Appeal on redcross.ca
The EOHU has other information here when it comes to cleaning up after a flood.