The summer storm that hit Toronto last night wreaked havoc across the city, flooding swaths of the downtown core, causing power outages, and nearly drowning two men trapped in a flooded basement elevator as some areas received more than 100mm of rainfall in less than three hours.
The rain continued into the morning with yet more damage to report – as of this morning, the subway line between Finch West and Wilson stations have shut down due to flooding. And with the rain slated to continue falling for most of the afternoon and into the evening, it’s likely that even more harm will be done.
This storm is certainly not Toronto’s first. It will also definitely not be the city’s last.
And while we can’t exactly control the weather, there are things we can do to limit the damage it might cause.
Placing covers on window wells, filling cracks in your driveway and depressions around your home’s foundation, and de-clogging eavestroughs are all maintenance tricks that could significantly reduce the impact of any flood.
Getting a home insurance policy that will cover flood damage is also recommended, since a policy can help pay for any issues that do occur.
In July, the City of Toronto launched a pilot program to educate up to 200 homeowners on emergency preparedness and flood risk reduction. The pilot, called the Toronto Home Resilience Pilot Program, will also give participating homeowners a customized assessment of their home’s flood risks. Homeowners will also receive suggestions on how to limit flood damage.
The pilot comes after a spate of storms hit Ontario over the past several years, costing insurers billions of dollars in damages. In early May, a single storm cost insurance companies in the province $380 million — the most that Ontario insurers have had to pay out for a single event since 2013, when they spent nearly $1 billion dollars to repair harm caused by flooding in Toronto.
Insurers have been warning for the past decade that the cost of claims stemming from natural events such as storms is going up — not just the number of claims as the population grows, but also the costs, as climate change is leading to more damaging flooding and winds.
These costs do not include the costs carried by taxpayers and the municipal or provincial governments, which are growing at an even faster rate than the expenses that insurers face.