Toronto home retrofitted to protect against basement flooding



    TORONTO, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
(ICLR), with support from the City of Toronto, has retrofitted a Toronto home
to reduce the risk of basement flooding. On August 19, 2005, a major rainstorm
in the Greater Toronto Area caused more than $500 million in insured damage -
the costliest natural catastrophe in Ontario history and the second most
expensive on record for the country. Since then, there have been numerous
severe storms causing basement flooding. Armed with knowledge of the practical
tips used in the retrofit, homeowners can protect themselves and reduce the
chance of flooding.
    "Basement flooding, caused by overland water flows, infiltration and
sewer backup, is a major concern for many urban municipalities in Canada,"
said ICLR's Executive Director Paul Kovacs. "With the increase in the
frequency and intensity of rainfall events, along with urbanization and aging
infrastructure, more homeowners are experiencing basement flooding. Effective
management of flood risks requires investment and upgrading of municipal sewer
infrastructure - along with educated homeowners who take action to prevent
flooding."
    "Protecting properties from flooding is a shared responsibility. This
retrofit demonstrates a number of ways that property owners can help guard
against it," said Toronto Water's Director of Infrastructure Management
Michael D'Andrea. "The City of Toronto has resources and a subsidy program to
help homeowners be proactive and protect their homes against flooding."
    The City's Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program provides
subsidies for the installation of a number of devices including a backwater
valve and sump pump. For information about how to apply, and other resources,
visit www.toronto.ca/water/sewers/basement_flooding.htm.
    ICLR has issued its "Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding," a new
publication that addresses the concerns of homeowners, local governments and
insurance companies of the increasing instances of basement flooding, by
providing comprehensive information on how to mitigate flood risk for
individuals and communities. The handbook contains 20 measures that homeowners
can take to reduce their risks and their neighbourhoods' risk of basement
flooding. Many of the measures are simple and relatively inexpensive - for
example, downspout disconnection, and sealing any cracks in foundation walls
and basement floors.

    Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home
to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine
of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America.
Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in
delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's
incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity,
opportunity and livability for all its residents.

    Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is
an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of
excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's
research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number
of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water
resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a
foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.


    Prevention of basement flooding

    On August 19, 2005, a major rainstorm in the GTA caused more than $500
million in insured damage - the costliest natural catastrophe in Ontario
history and the second most expensive on record for the country. On that day
more than 150 millimetres of rain fell on parts of Toronto during a three-hour
deluge that impacted a wide swath of land from Kitchener-Waterloo to Durham
Region. More than 13,000 sewer backup claims were filed with homeowner
insurers. Since 2005, there have been several severe storms causing basement
flooding. Homeowners need to be educated on how to protect themselves and
reduce flooding events.
    The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) retrofitted a
Toronto home (53 Parkview Ave.) to demonstrate measures that homeowners can
take to reduce the risk of flooding.

    Measures taken to help prevent basement flooding at 53 Parkview Ave:

    A licensed plumber conducted a thorough plumbing investigation including
searching for cracks in the foundation walls and basement floor and ensuring
that a backwater valve was installed and was functioning properly.
    
    -  Extensions and splash pads were placed on eavestrough downspouts.
    -  A French drain was installed on one downspout to prevent it from
       draining directly onto the driveway.
    -  The foundation drain was disconnected from the sanitary sewer
       lateral. A sump-pit and sump-pump were installed to convey foundation
       drainage to the lots' surface.
    -  Gaps were sealed around the furnace and water heater exhaust vents.
       The homeowner at 53 Parkview Ave. received a copy of the Institute for
       Catastrophic Loss Reduction's (ICLR) Handbook for Reducing Basement
       Flooding.
    -  Other features of the home that reduce the risk of basement flooding
       and the amount of damage incurred should water enter the basement:
    -  The basement is not finished.
    -  Basement windows are relatively high off the ground.

    Further actions the homeowner has been asked to undertake include:
    -  Check their insurance policy to ensure they have sewer backup
       coverage.
    -  Implement a regular maintenance schedule for the backwater valve.
    -  Refrain from using plumbing, particularly appliances requiring water,
       during extreme rainfall events, because the backwater valve may be
       closed.
    -  Avoid pouring grease and debris down household drains.

    Other actions homeowners can take:
    -  Disconnect downspouts from the sewer system.
    -  Increase green space around your property to encourage ground
       infiltration.
    -  Avoid having sloped driveways or other surfaces that draw water toward
       the home - ensure that driveways and landscaping are sloped to draw
       water away from the house.
    -  Apply to the City's Basement Flooding Subsidy Program
       www.toronto.ca/water/sewers/basement_flooding.htm
    

    Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding

    A new publication released by the ICLR called The Handbook for Reducing
Basement Flooding, addresses the concerns of homeowners, local governments and
insurance companies of the increasing instances of basement flooding, by
providing comprehensive information on how to mitigate flood risk for
individuals and communities. The handbook contains 20 measures that homeowners
can take to reduce their risks and their neighbourhoods' risk of basement
flooding.

    Toronto sewer infrastructure

    Depending on the amount of rainfall and how fast it falls, the sewer and
surface drainage systems can be overwhelmed in any area of the city, resulting
in the risk of basement flooding. Sewer and surface drainage systems are
designed to handle a certain intensity of storms.
    The City of Toronto is working to make improvements to its complex system
of underground pipes, sewers and catchbasins, but these improvements alone
cannot completely protect a home from basement flooding. Homeowners must also
take action to reduce their risk of basement flooding.
    Toronto City Council has approved a Basement Flooding Work Plan that
identifies 31 study areas. In four of these study areas, where basement
flooding has been severe, 200 infrastructure improvements have been proposed
at an estimated cost of $240 million. It is anticipated once the remaining 27
studies are completed, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of additional
infrastructure upgrades will be needed.

    Other ICLR activities

    As part of the insurance industry's ongoing commitment to educate
Canadian homeowners about disaster safety, ICLR has retrofitted homes across
the country to illustrate easy and relatively inexpensive measures that can be
made to make a home more resilient to natural hazards:

    
    2009: Toronto home was retrofitted to protect against winter storm,
          tornado and blackout.
    2008: Montreal home was retrofitted to protect against winter storm and
          earthquake.
    2007: Edmonton home was retrofitted to protect against tornado and winter
          storms.
    2006: Ottawa home was made more resilient to earthquakes and winter
          storms.
    2005: Vancouver home was made more resilient to earthquakes.
    2004: Halifax home was protected against hurricanes.
    2003: London home was made more resilient to tornadoes.
    

    The institute has also retrofitted child care centres across Canada as
part of its "Protecting our Kids from Disasters" program.
    For more information, visit www.iclr.org or www.toronto.ca/water.




For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Cheryl San Juan, Senior
Communications Coordinator, City of Toronto, cell (event day) (416) 994-3575,
tel. (416) 392-8259, chsanjua@toronto.ca; Glenn McGillivray, Managing
Director, ICLR, use cell (416) 277-5827, tel. (416) 364-8677 ext. 3216, fax
(416) 364-5889, gmcgillivray@iclr.org


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