Thunder Bay residents scramble to pump out wet basements

Flooding across the Thunder Bay region over the last two days has left people scrambling to pump water out their basements.

Sump pumps in short supply across Thunder Bay in wake of massive flooding

On Monday, water was continually being pumped out from basements on North Brodie Street in Thunder Bay. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

Flooding across the Thunder Bay region over the last two days has left people scrambling to pump water out their basements.

Water pumps were in short supply, as Ron Manduca and Brent Travish both discovered. The men live in homes on North Brodie Street, a neighbourhood on Thunder Bay’s south side.

Travish borrowed a pump from his employer, while Manduca had to head to a hardware store on the outskirts of the city to find a pump. The shelves were empty of pumps at other stores.

"I had to go out to Home Hardware [in] Rosslyn because everywhere else was sold out," Manduca said.

Sump pumps and wet/dry vacuums continue to be a hot commodity across the city in the wake of the flood that put Thunder Bay in a state of emergency Monday.

Sump pumps are in short supply.

Chris Cameron, the store manager at the Intercity Canadian Tire, said his store has sold out of sump pumps.

"At 8:30 a.m. [Monday] we opened up and there was approximately 40 people lined up at the door," Cameron said. "It was absolutely crazy with all the pump sales. People were coming in looking for sump pumps, Shop Vacs — anything to help get the water out of the basements."

Cameron said an emergency order of new merchandise should arrive by Wednesday, at the latest.

In the meantime, for those who have managed to find pumps, hoses line the streets as home owners try to pump out their basements.

Homeowners like Brent Travish now have to make insurance claims for basements that have been damaged by flood waters.

A frustrating experience

Travish had a steady stream of water coming into his basement that he was trying to pump out.

"As quick as I'm pumping this out --because that treatment plan is not working --the water is coming back in," Travish said.

Pump failures and flooding at Thunder Bay’s Atlantic Avenue Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant prompted the city to declare a state of emergency at an Emergency Operations Control Group meeting Monday morning. Officials were unable to confirm when the sewage treatement plant would be fully operational again. Residents have been asked to avoid flushing or releasing any water down their drains for now.

Ron Manduca said he was shocked to discover water pooling in his basement Monday morning. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

When Manduca woke up on Monday morning, he was shocked by what he saw.

"I … started getting the kids ready for school and was kind of doing my own thing and just happened to glance down the stairs," he said. "That's when I noticed the basement was full of water."

Manduca was just finishing up an insurance claim from a house fire, and said he now has to go through the process again to deal with the water damage.

"It was pretty upsetting," he said. "We had some pictures and stuff down there that we're trying to get out right now."

Travish said his partially finished basement was wrecked by the flood.

"Everything's soaked — from the bed to TV, to washer, dryer, fridge, stove, the furnace, [to] the heater," he said.

Phones are ringing off the hook at businesses that specialize in repairing water-damaged homes.

The water from basements on North Brodie Street in Thunder Bay continued to flow on Monday in the wake of flooding across the region. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

Karen Schmidt, a spokesperson with Strone Restoration, said the company has received hundreds of calls at its Thunder Bay office.

"Most of the time they're saying my basement's full of water," she said. "The reports are anywhere from a few inches to a few feet. And a few of them are even saying 6 and 8 feet."

Schmidt said that in the 12 years she's been in the restoration business she can't recall an emergency of this scale.

Several restoration companies in Thunder Bay are bringing in workers from other parts of the province, and Manitoba,  to meet the demand for cleanups.