For Immediate Release
Toronto, ON — While it may be hard to believe given today’s wind chill factor, winter is coming to an end. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many areas of the country face elevated risks of spring flooding. After the catastrophic flooding Canada experienced in 2013, that’s not the kind of news anyone wants to hear. There are, of course, many variables. The amounts of snow accumulation and frost in the ground, the rate at which temperatures rise, the possibility of rain activity on top of snow, the capacities of our sewer and stormwater infrastructures — these and other factors will ultimately determine what we experience this spring.
According to Colin Robertson, Vice-President Risk Control Services at Ecclesiastical Insurance, it’s best to prepare for a worst-case scenario. “It could go like this” he says, “record snow accumulation combined with rapid snowmelt and heavy thunderstorm activity. A perfect recipe for extensive flooding.”
Damage caused by floodwater can be devastating and getting a property and business back to normal can take a long time. To manage the risk and minimize the loss, Robertson urges everyone to be “flood-smart”. That means having clearly defined Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity and Crisis Communications Plans.
Ecclesiastical’s Risk Control specialists advise customers to establish pre-flood protocols, among them:
- Check your insurance coverage –– building and contents –– to confirm that you are covered for flooding and that the values declared have been reviewed and are up to date.
- Prepare a contact tree — identify who needs to be contacted, for what reason and when. Ensure that all persons on the contact tree have a copy and know their individual responsibilities.
- Be prepared to turn off electrical power, as well as gas and water supplies. Mark all appropriate switches.
- Secure structurally unstable building materials; move electronic equipment, important papers and valuables to a safe, “high and dry” location; make sure that data is backed up on a regular basis and that hazardous material is protected and safely stored.
Once floodwaters have subsided, there are some practical post-flood steps that will help mitigate further damage:
- Make sure it is safe to enter your property. Watch for hidden dangers in floodwater — sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollutants.
- Wear waterproof outerwear — gloves, boots and a facemask — when cleaning up after a flood.
- If the electricity supply is not already switched off at the main intake, get a qualified and licensed electrician to do this. Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in floodwater.
- If using a pump or generator to get water out of your premises, position the generator outside. To reduce the risk of structural damage, only pump out when the flood levels outside the property are lower than inside.
- Shovel any mud away from both sides of a wall, evenly. This also reduces the potential for pressure to build up and possible structural damage.
- If drying the property naturally, keep all doors and windows open as much as possible. If dehumidifiers are used, close windows and doors.
- If you have suffered damage, contact your insurance broker, who will notify your insurer on your behalf.
When it comes to education and preparedness, Robertson is emphatic. “The ice storms of this past December followed four years of severe weather-related losses with virtually every province experiencing one or more natural disasters. Climate change, whatever the cause, is a fact of life. We need to prepare for the consequences of severe weather. We can no longer afford to simply wait for the next event. We need to be far more proactive.”
About Ecclesiastical Insurance
Working with brokers across Canada, Ecclesiastical Insurance provides customized insurance solutions to faith communities, educational institutions, retirement facilities, unique and heritage properties, cultural institutions, funeral services providers, registered charities and nonprofit organizations, as well as select commercial enterprises. Owned by a charitable trust, Ecclesiastical is committed to protecting those who enrich the lives of others. For more information visit ecclesiastical.geekoracle.com
For information about Ecclesiastical’s specialized products or Risk Control services, please contact:
Vice President, Risk Control