Flood Preparedness & Information


Flood damage costs Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars annually, to say nothing of the cost in terms of human lives and suffering. In 1997, of the 11 emergency situations in Ontario, seven were related to flooding. All governments work to reduce the chance of floods, but the first line of defense is the individual. Each of us has a responsibility to protect our homes and families to the greatest extent possible. By planning ahead and taking sensible precautions, you can do your part to minimize flood damage.

At Work For You

Through radio and TV, local governments do their best to keep residents who are likely to be affected well informed. When flooding is imminent, or has occurred, detailed instructions by municipal or provincial authorities will be given as the need arises.

Be Prepared For Flooding

Homeowners, renters and businesses can take the following precautions to help prevent or lessen the effects of flooding.

  • If necessary, have a professional inspect your roof for excessive snow loads.
  • Check your sump pump to see if it's working.
  • Check to see if your eaves troughs, culverts and drainage ditches are clear.
  • Review your insurance policy to ensure you are adequately covered. Make sure you have sewer
  • Assemble a family disaster survival kit.
If You Are At Risk

When authorities have advised you that flooding is imminent, take precautions to ensure that you, your family and property are protected.

  • Make sure your radio battery is in working order and listen to local instruction.
  • Have emergency food, water and medical supplies on hand (i.e. family disaster kit).
  • Move furniture, electrical appliances, livestock, equipment and other belongings
  • Remove or seal hazardous products like weed killers or insecticides.
  • Do not plug basement floor drains. Allow pressure to equalize to prevent structural damage to basement, floors and walls.
  • Have sandbags ready to use.

If you are advised by the authorities to evacuate your home, then do so. Ignoring the warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or those that might have to rescue you.

Before you leave, turn off power, water and gas. Make arrangements for pets. Should time allow, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there.

If you are evacuated, register with the reception centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your family and loved ones.

On The Road
  • Follow the routes specified by officials. Don't take short cuts. They could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
  • Travel very carefully, and only if absolutely necessary, through flooded areas. Roads may be washed away or covered with water. If you come across a barricade or a flooded road, take a different route.
  • Keep listening to the radio for information.
  • Emergency workers will be busy assisting people in flooded areas. Help them by staying out of the way.
  • If you must walk or drive in a flooded area, make sure you are on firm ground.
  • Watch out for power lines that are down.
  • If you are caught in fast rising waters and your car stalls, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.
Returning Home

Care should be taken when re-entering your home. Flood water is heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that can pose a serious health hazard.

  • Before entering a flooded building, check for foundation damage and make sure all porch roofs and overhangs are supported.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect for damage inside your house. Do not strike a match or use an open flame unless you know the gas has been turned off.
  • If your basement is full of water, drain in stages, about a third of the volume of water per day (draining too quickly can structurally damage your home).
  • Using a dry piece of wood, turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box.
  • protective eyewear when cleaning up.
  • Do not use wet appliances or motors unless they have been serviced by a qualified electrician.
  • Contact your local heating repair company to inspect your furnace and chimney.
  • Do not use your regular water supply or septic system until it has been inspected and declared safe to use.
  • Dispose of all contaminated food
  • If children are present during the clean-up operations, supervise them closely.
  • For instructions on how to disinfect wells and cisterns, contact the local health unit.
  • Check your newspaper or listen to your radio or television for information about help that may be provided.

Red Cross Response

When major disasters strike in Northern Ontario:
  • Red Cross volunteers and staff are there immediately, working with local governments, communities and other aid organizations to meet urgent day-to-day basic needs of survivors -- such as family reunification, shelter, food, clothing, clean water and supplies.
  • Red Cross coordinates its work with other relief organizations to address gaps in assistance provided through municipalities, governments and insurance companies.
  • Red Cross assistance is offered independently and impartially – with no regard for nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.
  • Red Cross remains on the scene to help address longer-term needs, such as the rebuilding of lives and communities and reducing vulnerability to future disasters.
  • Canadians turn to the Red Cross to translate their care and concern for victims into meaningful help.During the past 10 years, Canadians affected by disaster have received more than $100 million in assistance from Red Cross.
When families in Northern Ontario have nowhere to turn when forced from home by fire or other emergency:

The Canadian Red Cross provides food, shelter, clothing and other essential supplies for up to 72 hours.

Visit the Canadian Red Cross website for more information.

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Sandbag Tips

It is common knowledge that sandbags can be used to prevent flooding. What is not common knowledge, is the correct way to fill and lay sandbags.

Regular sandbags for this purpose are a specific size, 13" by 34". The advantages of this size bag as opposed to a turnip or potato sack are that the sandbag is smaller, thus economizing on sand, and are lighter to handle and easier to put in place.

Use proper size sandbag. Either stockpile bags or determine where a ready supply is available. (note: sandbags can be obtained from your municipal office or at the NDCA office for a nominal fee).

  1. Fill bag 2/3rds full. (roughly 24"). Do not tie.
  2. Fold top of bag over loosely to allow sand to settle for best results.
  3. Lay the top of the bag against the bottom of the previously-laid bag.
  4. A plastic membrane, if desired, can be used in conjunction with the sandbags to reduce leakage.
  5. If time permits, a more efficient result can be acquired by tapping the bags flat after laying. This will prevent holes between bags and prepare a flat surface for the next row of bags.
  6. The subsequent layers of bags should be staggered like bricks so that each row will cover the joint of the bag below.
  7. Do not use sandbags as an erosion protection system or where bags are subject to direct wave attack. If this cannot be avoided then support sandbags against a structure.
  8. If possible, do not place bags or construct a sandbag dike bearing directly against a home with an old or questionable foundation system as the weight of the dike could affect the structural integrity of the home.
  9. The number of sandbags needed for 100 linear feet of dike is:
  • 800 bags for 1 foot high dike
  • 2,000 bags for 2 foot high dike
  • 3,400 bags for 3 foot high dike

Remove all ice and snow from a strip of land at least as wide as the base of the dike. If the dike is to be more than about 3 feet high, remove a strip of sod to provide better anchorage for the dike.

Common errors in sandbagging are:

  • Attempting to build, fill bags or construct a dyke too quickly or with inadequate help thus causing personal fatigue, possible injury, and/or construction of an inferior dyke.
  • Filling the bag too full, making the bag like a sausage, and requiring an additional bag to plug the hole left between bags.
  • Letting edges of bags overlap, thus again leaving a hole and spoiling the level for the next row of bags.
  • Bags are placed where they are easily destroyed by wave attack.
  • Thinking sandbags are a permanent means of shoreline and/or protection.