How to prepare your home for spring flooding

As temperatures continue to rise in Ottawa, officials are advising residents to prepare themselves and their homes for possible flooding.

Tips on what you can do now to prevent damage to your home

Michael Washer is seen here, surveying the damage in his garage. The water has dropped from neck level to below his waist, but many of his belongings are damaged beyond repair. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

As temperatures continue to rise in Ottawa, officials are advising residents to prepare themselves and their homes for possible flooding. 

Rain coupled with the melting snow over the past week has increased the risk of flooding in low-lying areas. Even more snow is expected to melt as temperatures hover around 4 C in the coming days.  

"We want to make sure people are prepared for flooding because we do have a lot of older homes in the area that may be prone to flood waters," said Kim McCann, the senior public health inspector with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.

How to prepare for a flood

McCann said there are a number of things that can be done now to minimize the risk of damage before a flood:

  • Keep an emergency kit on hand, stock up on extra food and water.
  • Basements should be cleared out of any food, chemical products, sharp objects, and furniture to prevent contamination or damage by flood water. 
  • Unplug all appliances in areas that could be flooded.
  • Ensure that the drain ditches around homes are clear of debris.  

McCann said there are also a number of precautions to take after a flood:

  • It's important to know that flood water is filled with bacteria which can be harmful to people's health. People in rural areas who rely on wells need to test their water after a flood. 
  • Septic systems should not be pumped until the flood waters have receded and the ground has dried to avoid damaging the system. 

In a statement to the CBC News, the City of Ottawa said it is taking precautionary measures to reduce the possibility of street flooding.

The city has also established a flood task force to help with the spring thaw and monitor the river levels. The city is also working with conservation authorities in the area, the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 

Residents are encouraged to help city crews clear snow and ice from catch basins near their homes so that melting snow can drain properly.