flooding

Town encouraging residents to participate in flooding subsidy programs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Oct. 6 rain event caused flooding in town, much of which was in the Kingsbridge subdivision, and the town is hoping more people take part in the flooding subsidy program.

According to a report from the town’s public works department that appeared as a supplementary agenda item at last Tuesday night’s council meeting, 41 homes had reported flooding with 30 of them coming from the Kingsbridge area. Six incidents of flooding were reported from the Pointe West subdivision while five reports came from other areas.

As of mid-day Thursday, that number had grown to 54 homes across Amherstburg.

The town has stated that the storm water and wastewater systems were both fully functional “at all times, before, during and after the storm.”

“It is difficult to determine the exact cause of every home’s flooding as not all homes within the flooding areas were subject to basement flooding or the same underlying cause,” the report stated. “Protecting each home from basement flooding is the best defence.”

The report, signed by director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu, outlines work done to the Amherstburg sewer system since the 1970’s. Part of it notes the 2017 voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program that council established, which sees the town subsidize such items as downspout disconnection, foundation drain disconnection, backwater valve installation and sump pump overflow programs. A portion of the 2018 Edgewater forcemain project also sees one of the Edgewater lagoon cells being converted into a temporary wet weather storage cell.

Approximately 40 residents have taken advantage of the voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program, the town states. That was initiated after the 2017 rain event that hit McGregor.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he had an inch of water in his Texas Road basement and wanted to know how much water hit the area. In a 30-minute period between 7:20 p.m. and 7:50 p.m., the area experienced 36.4mm of rainfall at an average intensity of 116.9 mm/hr. A rainfall intensity of over 98.9mm/hr in a 30-minute period qualifies as a 1:100 year storm.

Fryer believed additional measures need to be looked at, noting 1:100 year storms are happening more frequently.

“It’s more like one in 10 year storms,” he said.

Fryer, who also chairs the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) board of directors, said “it is climate change. There’s no doubt about it.”

Citing the report, Councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that the town has been taking action to prevent flooding since the 1970’s. She asked if another garbage collection day could be added but was told by administration that Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) was contacted and they are going to try to stick to the same schedule, but add another date if one proves necessary.

CAO John Miceli said town council has taken a “leadership role” in trying to address the flooding matters and urged residents to take part in the basement flooding protection subsidy program. He said the town is trying to mitigate the issues but indicated more residents need to take part in the program.

“If you haven’t already notified the town, please do so,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “The key to fixing the problems is knowing where they are. We have been and continue to investigate. There are quite a few homes and we want to do it properly.”

DiCarlo said the system worked the way it is supposed to and that every municipality builds sewer systems to a 1:100 year storm standard. Storm totals “far exceeded” the 1:100 year standard, he said, and that there is no municipal system that could have handled that amount of rain that quickly.

DiCarlo also encouraged people to take part in the subsidy program, noting that some of the issues could have been avoided. New builds do not connect downspouts to the storm sewers and also have backflow valves, with DiCarlo adding that other residents are able to access the program.

For those residents who haven’t already reported flooding problems from the Oct. 6 storm to the town, they are asked to call the public works department at 519-736-3664.

Natyshak seeks relief for flooding victims

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Some relief could be on the way for flooding victims if a bill introduced by Essex MPP Taras Natyshak gets the final OK.

A private members bill, known as Bill 179, was introduced Thursday and has passed second reading. The bill is geared towards not only helping reduce flooding, but to help expand the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Program and to prevent flood victims from being “penalized” by the insurance industry.

“The impetus of the bill is borne out of the flooding we’ve seen since 2006 including the fall of this year,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak said the first portion of his bill would change the Ontario Building Code and require new home builds have a 204-litre rain barrel to hold some of the water that accumulates during rain events.

“That first provision is neat because it is borne out of speaking with the FIRST Robotics team at Holy Names high school,” said Natyshak.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

The students have been studying the issue of managing the increasing amount of rainfall in their community.

“These kids are so bright. They are creative and eager to learn and share their ideas,” said Natyshak. “I was blown away by their diligent research and have incorporated the rain barrels into the legislation I’m proposing to help families mitigate the damage that severe flooding has done to homes in this area in the past few years.”

While 204 litres may not seem like a lot, he said that adds up when multiplied over 1,000 homes.

According to a news release sent by Natyshak’s office, there is evidence that rain barrels can be an effective option. The release notes that in Wingham, 1,000 barrels were distributed and with a 58 per cent participation rate, the community saw a five per cent reduction in rainwater processed by the municipality’s storm water management system. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has also conducted two pilot studies on rain barrels; one in Stratford, PEI looked at the use of downspout-connected rain barrels in response to increased claims from extreme weather events and found damages to homes was significantly lessened.

“It’s a cheap solution to an expensive program,” he said.

Natyshak’s Bill amends three acts to further protect victims of flooding: the Insurance Act, Building Code Act 1992 and Municipal Affairs Act.

“It’s clear to me that people in this region are suffering as a result of climate change,” said Natyshak. “The amount of rainfall in the past few years has meant that more and more families have been forced to complete expensive repairs – and also that insurance companies are looking for new and creative ways to deny claims. This bill deals with that.”

The NDP MPP stated that people who may never have had a prior claim can have their claim cancelled or someone may be talked out of making a claim for fear their insurance could be cancelled.

“To me or to the people affected, that doesn’t seem fair,” said Natyshak. “They can’t control where the rain falls.”

There are concerns that entire neighbourhoods could be uninsurable if things don’t change, Natyshak suggested.

There would also be wider coverage to assist those who are impacted by sewer backups, he added, should be bill receive final approval.

The bill has received unanimous support in the Legislature thus far, said Natyshak, but “ultimately the ball is in the government’s court if it is to go any further. He is hopeful the bill will proceed and receive due process.

“It gets the issue on the radar for homeowners and politicians,” he added, of Bill 179. “There has to be something we can do. We can’t do nothing.”

Province expands Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians in Windsor-Essex County

Special to the RTT

Ontario has expanded the activation area for the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program in Windsor, Amherstburg, Lakeshore and Tecumseh (see maps).

Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro activated the program in the City of Windsor and the Towns of Amherstburg, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh in Essex County on September 7, 2017 following heavy rainfall in the area. Expanding the original activation area will allow more residents who were affected by the flood to submit claims for assistance.

Due to the expansion of the activation area, the deadline to submit claims for applicants in all of the affected municipalities is extended to March 20, 2018.

In late August, a series of localized, intense thunderstorms moved across the region, resulting in over 200 millimetres of rainfall and causing flooding in some areas.

Affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of this disaster may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a main small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Damage from sewer backup is not eligible under the program except under special provisions for low-income households.

More information and detailed program guidelines are available at ontario.ca/DisasterAssistance or call toll-free 1-844-780-8925.

Town seeking solutions to McGregor flooding, municipal subsidy program to come soon

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

A McGregor resident appeared before town council regarding the late August flood and the town is stating they are coming up with answers for him and every other resident.

Tom Welsh, who lives on Middle Side Road, said his home was damaged by flooding in the Aug. 28 storm as seven inches of rain hit that area, including five inches between the hours of 7-11 p.m. He told council it’s not the first time that it happened.

“Two times in two years we’ve flooded,” said Welsh. “It’s enough. There’s more people in town that just the core.”

Welsh said he had 18 inches of water in his basement, including human feces. He noted he has even spent $3,000 on a generator trying to fix the problem.

“I don’t know what else to do. It’s got to stop. Things have to be done,” said Welsh. “I put a whole lot into (my home). It’s a nice area. Our community is awesome.”

Welsh wanted to see more investment in that area.

“Everything you see in town is for the core,” he said. “We should get something.”

The town said there is, in fact, investment happening there and work is being done to address the issues in McGregor. An $80,000 investigation was conducted and “no smoking gun” was found in the public system. Director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu stating “our focus shifts to the private side.” She added a report regarding a subsidy program is currently scheduled to come before council Sept. 25.

“It will definitely include McGregor and be a town-wide program as well,” she said.

Councillor Diane Pouget told Welsh “we have spent quite a bit of money” in trying to solve the problem, with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreeing.

“We are spending money and we will continue to spend money until we find a solution,” said DiCarlo. “This council is very committed to it. We’re going to keep working in this area to alleviate the problem.”

DiCarlo said this council is sympathetic to residents who continuously flood but said $400,000 has been budgeted this year to try and fix the problem as quickly as possible. He noted the forthcoming report will address issues as downspout disconnections and backflow valves, among other things, and that they will work with private homeowners to address issues.

The Ontario government has released this map detailing where in Amherstburg disaster relief is available stemming from the Aug. 28 rain event.

“We have not forgotten about anybody,” he said. “I think council has shown we know where the town’s boundaries are.”

One in 100 year storms are not one in 100 year storms anymore and DiCarlo added large rain events can be expected so action is needed.

“Every time it rains, if there is a mayor that doesn’t sweat, I don’t know who they are,” he said. “The hardest part is to tell people we’re working on it as I can only imagine how that has been received.”

CAO John Miceli said administration is doing its part to try and find a resolution to the problem, believing the subsidy program is a step in the right direction.

“We understand your concerns,” said Miceli. “We’re providing a program that I think will go over and above what other municipalities are offering.”

Miceli also said until a solution is found to the flooding issues, “we’re going to keep trying.”

Welsh also expressed concern with the number of power outages the area experiences, with DiCarlo stating that Essex Power has tried to work with Ontario Hydro to take over all of Amherstburg but “they have flat out denied us over and over.”

The town would be happy to facilitate a meeting between Welsh and Ontario Hydro, said DiCarlo, as he believed that would do more than the municipality trying to get involved. He added that Ontario Hydro “is all but ignoring infrastructure in rural areas.

“We’re fighting the province on this,” said DiCarlo. “If they are going to provide hydro, they have to do so reliably.”

In all, roughly 34 homes in the McGregor area have reported flooding to the town of Amherstburg.

The Ontario government notified the City of Windsor and the Towns of Amherstburg, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh last Thursday that it has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program in flood-affected areas.

The province advised that affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of this disaster may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a main small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Damage from sewer backup is not eligible under the program except under special provisions for low-income households.

The government states it “is closely monitoring other areas experiencing flooding across the province. It may activate the program in these areas as flood impacts continue to be assessed in the coming days and weeks.”

More information and detailed program guidelines are available at http://ontario.ca/DisasterAssistance or call toll-free 1-844-780-8925.

 

Flooding victims still being asked to report matter to public works

 

(NOTE: This story is an updated version to the one that was posted online last Thursday.)

By RTT Staff

 

Those in Amherstburg who sustained damage thanks to heavy rain Monday night are being encouraged to call the Amherstburg Public Works Department to report it.

Clerk Paula Parker noted as of Thursday afternoon that no insurance claims had been filed to that point with the municipality but people were being asked to report damage to public works. Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said her department has had 19 calls as of approximately 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve had some flooding in the McGregor area,” she said.

The calls have been mainly due to basement flooding though some calls late Monday evening were due to roadways flooding in the Canard Valley Estates subdivision and Middle Side Road (County Road 10), she stated.

All systems and pumps were functioning properly, said Giofu, but “it was just a massive amount of rain.”

By calling it in to public works, it helps the department document the issue and track what exactly happened. She said representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will be in the region Tuesday and that reports of damage would be shared in case relief could be provided.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo posted on his Facebook page that residents are encouraged to call public works.

“If you experienced any flooding from the past heavy rainfall, please contact Public Works at 519-736-3664 to report your damage,” the mayor stated. “I have been notified by the Minister of Municipal Affairs that they should have representatives in the region next week to assess the situation and coordinate possible relief. The Town would like to submit all related information so please let us know. Thank you.”

Damaged goods sit in front of a McGregor home after the storm that hit the area Aug. 28.

DiCarlo told the RTT Tuesday morning that he was told the amount of flooding calls had grown to 33. He said the ministry was coming to the region to get an extent of damage and not to investigate individual homes, so people are still encouraged to call in flooding damage from the storm to the town even if Ministry officials are gone.

“It won’t hurt for us to know who is flooded,” he said. “The more information we have, the better it is for the town.”

The town is awaiting to see how the relief flows from the province, but DiCarlo said any compensation to residents will come from the province.

“Other than being the in-between, the town does not offer any relief as far as flooding goes in the way of compensation,” he said, saying Amherstburg will turn over all information it has to the province.

Amherstburg is looking at a cost sharing program with residents on such things as back water valves and other similar equipment and the mayor said that will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

 

(THURSDAY UPDATE: The Ontario government has notified the City of Windsor and the Towns of Amherstburg, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh in Essex County that it has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program in flood-affected areas.

The province advised during the late afternoon Sept. 7 that affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of this disaster may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a main small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Damage from sewer backup is not eligible under the program except under special provisions for low-income households.

The government states it “is closely monitoring other areas experiencing flooding across the province. It may activate the program in these areas as flood impacts continue to be assessed in the coming days and weeks.”

More information and detailed program guidelines are available at http://ontario.ca/DisasterAssistance or call toll-free 1-844-780-8925.)