New Study Looks at Impacts of Basement Flooding in Burlington

Summer - the only time you get to properly finish all repairs and be ready for the winter.

Gah! Why is Canadian weather so stressful?

Turns out, of all the extreme weather events, flooding is the costliest.

It causes millions of dollars in property damage.

And, what’s worse is that basement flooding impacts time off work. But what about the stress it causes homeowners?

A new study the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, at the University of Waterloo explored the impact on homeowner’s health in Burlington after a major storm in August 2014.

At the time, 3,500 homes were flooded.

Households that had flooded basements also saw that more than half (56 per cent) had at least one member who had to take time off work for an average of seven days per household.

What’s shocking is that this is 10 times the Ontario average for non-flooded households.

Three years after their home was flooded, 48 per cent always worry when it rains, compared to three per cent from non-flooded households.

So, it’s obvious that those who have to deal with flooded basements experience higher worry and stress.

Within the first 30 days of flooding, 47 per cent experienced stress compared to the 11 per cent who had never experienced a flood.

This study adds a new dimension to our understanding of the pernicious impacts of flooding - long term mental stress, combined with lost time from work, underscore the need for all levels of government to act with haste to promote home flood protection across Canada,” said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and a professor at the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment.

What else can we do?

Preparation “allows us to deal with issues as they arise,” said Dr. Georgia Pomaki, Leader, Mental Health Specialists at Manulife. “By strengthening the psychological resiliency of Canadians through programs focused on mental health awareness, prevention, intervention and recovery, we are preparing our clients, their employees, and their families with the tools they need to thrive.”

Everyone involved - homeowners, businesses and government must take action to reduce flood risk, the study finds, otherwise the mental health impacts might worsen.

Additionally, homeowners should talk to their insurance provider to understand their coverage, and ensure they are financially prepared and take action to reduce flood risk.

At the national level, developing and adopting codes and standards and training and certifying home inspectors on flood risk will help a great deal.

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