In Canada, heavy rainfall, snow melt and in particular, ice jams are major causes of flooding. The damage caused by flood water entering a property can be devastating. There are simple and practical steps you can take to protect your place of worship and your community.
Preparing for a Flood Event
- Check your insurance coverage, both building and contents, to confirm that you are covered for flooding and that the values declared have been reviewed and are up to date.
- Make sure someone who has easy access to your place of worship knows how to turn off your gas, electricity and water mains supplies. If in doubt, contact your supplier now. Mark appropriate switches to help the nominated person(s) to remember the process.
- Prepare a contact tree — who needs to be contacted for what and when. Ensure that all persons on the contact tree have a copy and know their individual responsibilities. Include cell phone numbers.
- Listen to the local news and radio broadcasts for up-to-date information. Your provincial government or local municipality may also be providing information and advice, so know where to look. For example, the Government of Manitoba issues current flood forecasting reports on their website. These can be accessed by clicking here.
- Your local municipality may provide you with sandbags during the flood event, but these are likely to be scarce. You can buy your own bags and sand or fill pillow cases and plastic bags with earth. Note: following a flood these may be contaminated so exercise caution when handling and disposing of these.
- Consider what needs to be moved out of your place of worship and/or associated outbuilding(s), garage or shed. If possible, all moveable contents including rugs, carpets, electronic equipment including PA systems, musical instruments, religious artifacts, furniture, etc. should be removed to a safe place, away from the flood affected area. If this is not possible or practical then move these items to an upper floor, balcony or gallery above the anticipated flood level.
- Automobiles and mechanical plant such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc., should be removed from the grounds to a place of safety.
- Put plugs in sinks, basins and baths and weigh these down with a sandbag or other heavy object.
- Charge your cell phone before the anticipated flood event occurs.
After a Flood
- First check that it is safe to enter your place of worship or other property — use caution as there may be hidden dangers in flood waters such as sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollutants.
- If your place of worship has suffered damage, contact your insurance broker who will notify your insurers on your behalf.
- Always wear waterproof outerwear, gloves, boots and a face mask when clearing up after a flood.
- If your 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 flood water.
- You can get water out of your place of worship using a pump or generator. Position the generator outside and only pump out when the flood levels outside the property are lower than inside, this reduces the risk of structural damage.
- Shovel any mud away evenly from both sides of a wall, again this reduces the potential for pressure build up and possible structural damage.
- If you are drying the property naturally then keep all doors and windows open as much as possible. If dehumidifiers are being used then close external doors and windows.
- In most cases, your insurance company will send an independent loss adjuster to assess the damage and coordinate the cleanup process. They will confirm what repairs are needed and what is covered by your insurance policy.