Globe and Mail out of line blaming Home Owners for 2017 Flooding
Since the flooding season has started in Canada, the Globe and Mail's editorials have been adamant that the fault lies with homeowners who have built or own homes in the areas that have been flooded and that taxpayers should not be bailing them out.
As someone who spent last weekend filling sandbags and installing them at a number of locations in the Constance Bay community along the Ottawa River, their understanding of the situation is uninformed.
With regards to Ottawa, the Globe editorials cite the floods of 2002 and 2009 as examples of similar floods. Those floods happened within the City – specifically within suburbs such as Katimavik - where homes were flooded due to inadequate City storm water management and sewer back-ups which have been addressed by backup valves for homes and improvements to the local storm sewers to prevent reoccurrence and for which there were no issues this spring. Those floods did NOT include the Ottawa River related flooding.
The floods which have impacted Constance Bay on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River and communities in Gatineau have experienced water levels not seen in human memory. The Globe and Mail editorials would have us believe that these are areas of repeated flooding which are documented and which home owners should have been aware of.
The Globe’s perspective is that the problem is that home owners are to blame for recently building homes in known flood areas. This fails to understand that, in Constance Bay, and from photos I’ve seen of flooding on the Gatineau side, most of the homes that were flooded were 40 years or older, built at a time when flooding from the river was unknown.
It was clear in my time spent in Constance Bay that newer homes have been built on much higher ground, whether through use of “fill” or located on naturally higher properties, and in most cases well equipped with sump pumps to keep flood waters in basements from flooding. Those whose homes were flooded were long term residents of meager means in older and renovated homes much closer to the river level.
I was also informed by our local MP and numerous local safety officials that a major contributor to the impact of the flooding was that notification of the flood potential was not communicated early enough – a problem for which improve river monitoring and notification would solve.
If Climate Change has introducing new flood areas, the effective solution is to do what happened as result of hurricane Hazel in 1954 where areas prone to flooding saw property owners being bought out by insurers, Local, Provincial or Federal governments allowing home owners to build elsewhere and avoid repeated flood claims.