I hope you’ve been enjoying the lovely weather and the festivals this month. I know I have been enjoying the warm weather, time with my family and participating in the summer festivals and activities around the city when I’m not busy working. This month, I wish to talk about the severe weather we had at the end of June, the damage we had in Ward 10 from flooding and the progress we’ve made in fixing that damage. I also want to provide you with information on how to clean up safely after a flood and a grant program that the City of London runs to help mitigate basement flooding.
On June 22, London and Middlesex County had a severe weather advisory from Environment Canada. Following a wet, windy, and noisy night we woke up to a lifted advisory, power outages, flooding, and damaged property; such as fallen trees, overturned and broken outdoor furniture, among other things. Reports vary but the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority said that London received close to 80 millimetres of rain. The historical average of rainfall for the entire month of September is 82 millimetres, which means that London received an entire month’s worth of rain in two hours. That’s a lot of water.
Of course, as luck would have it, in the same week London received more rain showers on June 27th and 28th; with upwards of 80 millimetres falling on the 27th and 10-15 millimetres on the 28th. This again exceeded the monthly average for rainfall.
The additional storms meant that we have had to draw out our efforts to recover from the first storm on the 22nd due to staffing shortages. What we have done so far is respond to flooding calls from basement flooding and surface flooding in a case analysis fashion including site visits. We have also been going over the performance of existing flooding mitigation infrastructure to note ways in which these mitigation measures can be improved. Finally, the Environmental and Engineering Services staff will be meeting in the future to review and analyze all aspects of the event including how calls are received and logged in, response efforts, follow up, future mitigation measures and improvements on all of these.
Flooding Damage: Health and Safety During Clean Up
Separate from the mess are the health and safety hazards a flooded basement presents which require special precautions.
- Flooding may affect electrical and gas systems including appliances, creating the possibility of serious electrical shock.
- Flood water could be highly contaminated with disease/bacteria from raw sewage and other pollutants.
- Be aware that basement flooding can leave a range of contaminants including mould, harmful stuff in the sewer, etc. Resulting moulds and mildew can trigger problems for asthmatics so be careful, and take the proper safety precautions if you are doing your own cleanup.
Cleaning up is a messy and unpleasant job. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself while getting rid of the mess:
- Wear protective clothing – overalls, gloves, protective eyeglasses, rubber boots and a face mask.
- Stay clear of electrical equipment. Do not attempt to change any fuses if you are standing in water or on damp ground.
- If you can, shut off the electrical power.
- If weather permits, open basement windows to allow fresh air in. In addition to speeding the drying process, this helps to prevent odours.
- Remove items of value that are in, or near, the source of water.
- Fans and/or dehumidifiers can reduce dampness and speed drying.
- Minor debris can be left out for regular garbage pick-up.
- Scrub affected furniture with antibacterial soap and water and place outside to dry (weather permitting), or steam clean.
- Clean and deodorize carpets or have them professionally cleaned.
- Disinfect the walls and the floor using a chlorine bleach and water solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Wait for the area to dry completely before re-using it.
- Throw out canned goods and other foods that may have been affected by flood waters. If your freezer has lost power, move frozen food to a neighbour’s freezer, or throw it out if you cannot keep it frozen.
Basement Flooding Grant Program
The following criteria must be met in order to qualify for the Basement Flooding Grant Program:
- The City of London also offers a Basement Flooding Grant Program. This program was designed to financially help property owners disconnect their weeping tiles from the City’s sewer systems and allow them to also install a backwater valve which stops water from entering the home. By doing this, property owners are decreasing the risk of basement flooding.
- The property has experienced basement flooding OR is in an area of the City that could be prone to basement flooding.
- The property has weeping tiles and they are directly connected to the sanitary or storm sewer.
- The applicant must be the owner of the property.
- The work must not have started prior to the grant approval.
- Must not have other outstanding debts to the City of London.
- Must execute an appropriate liability release document.
For further questions or to find out if you qualify or not, contact the Wastewater and Drainage Engineering Division at 519-661-2500 extension 5923.