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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



The flooding in Quebec this spring has reached historic levels. Approximately 150 municipalities and over 1500 homes have been hit by rising water levels in the province. Some municipalities have declared a State of Emergency locally, including Montreal and Laval.

More than 150 bodies of water are currently under observation in all seventeen Administrative regions in the province. As it stands now there are 13 basins under surveillance, 14 with minor flooding, 4 with medium flooding, 3 with major flooding. Now the work is to keep the water at bay, but the real work begins when assessing the damage.

As the flood waters recede people will begin to feel the financial burden. Thomas Blanchet Civil Security Spokesperson for the mnistère de la Sécurité Publique (MSP), Quebec's public security ministry, said that "flooding is not an insurable risk, and is not covered by private insurance companies." Blanchet added that "this is why the MSP has put in place a financial aid program for citizens and municipalities."

In Quebec as a "tenant or owner of a principal residence [citizens] could receive financial assistance to guard against a danger or repair damage caused during a disaster." Claims may be reimbursed up to $3000, yet people are encouraged to act quickly and take preventive measures to protect their home. Municipalities are also eligible to be reimbursed for preventive measures such as sandbags.

The Red Cross has launched a campaign to support flood victims and the government has "supported the campaign by giving $500 thousand."

Blanchet said that infrastructure can be affected in different ways by flooding, adding "it has to do with the level of water and the length of time," that it is present. Blanchet explained that extended flooding on a roadway "may [cause it] to weaken]."

Flood relief efforts are coordinated with many public security institutions. Marie-Claude Dandenault, Commander of Communications and Media Relations for the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), said that their "role is one of support."

Dandenault added that their "main activities are controlling traffic in affected areas, and assisting firefighters and ambulances if need be."

Dandenault underlined that "officers will be going door to door in areas at risk to give residents advice."

The website Préparation à l'urgence stated that "flooding has many consequences," on drinking water. They point to "overflowing sewers and septic tanks [as well as] contamination by pathogenic germs."

Clément Falardeau, Publicist with the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, said that "the Department considers that there is no need to worry about the quality of drinking water produced by municipalities in different regions of Quebec." He continued "municipalities that source their water from lakes and rivers that are experiencing flooding are equipped with water treatment systems."

Falardeau assured that theses systems "allow [the municipalities] to cope with the degradation of raw water that could be caused by floods or sewage overflows." He added, presently "there is no indication that the quality of drinking water distributed could have been compromised." In the event that these water systems were to become contaminated people would be notified through their municipality with a boil or non-consumption notice.

For those whose drinking water is sourced from wells, the MDDELCC "recommends that the well water be considered unsafe if their area is flooded." These people would need to find an alternate source from an unaffected distribution system, use bottled water, or boil the water for at least one if they drink or cook with it. Before consuming the well water certain precautions should be taken, "disinfection of the well and analysis of water samples," Falardeau said.

In the upheaval of a major flooding event, there will always be things that are overlooked at the onset. For example, water heaters that are generally in the basement, how are they impacted when rivers and lakes leave their bed?

Valérie Gonzalo, Media Relations with Lowe's Canada said "anytime there is a water heater that is installed on a floor where there is flooding, [it] should be replaced as the combustion chamber will most likely be damaged." Gonza added that "this is especially true for gas units where the combustion chamber doesn't sit far off the floor." A major domestic appliance that generally needs replacement every 8 to 12 may most likely have to be discarded in the event of a flood.

Gonzalo pointed out that should the "heater be stationed on a drain pan and water doesn't rise higher than the pan, [it] should be okay." this may not be the case in some of the areas hardest hit this spring.

Not all the of the impacts come with a heavy price tag, there are human costs in natural disasters. Jeremy Stone, a PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia's (UBC) School of Community and Regional Planning, said that "obviously in all disaster situations there can be a significant psychological toll."

People will be dealing with "the loss of loved ones, homes, personal effects, businesses, and social and cultural spaces," Stone said. These issues "can have a significant and lasting impact on individuals and communities," Stone added. He underlined that "psychological services are increasingly important in disaster management, and play a key role in bridging individuals from short-term response to long-term recovery."

For those in affected areas the recovery may only be beginning, and this process may last for some time to come. The price tag may be heavy, and things lost may be irreplaceable. As people begin to the process to get their lives back to normal, the most important part of this recovery is self-care.

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