New Brunswick

Homeowners can do easy, inexpensive things to reduce flooding impact, expert says

ACAP Saint John hosted a workshop Thursday to explore how to reduce the impact of flooding on homes and communities.

Natalia Moudrak encourages homeowners to become part of solution to extreme weather events

Many houses in Fredericton, like this one on Winslow Street, were flooded by the St. John River last spring. The river also spilled its banks the spring before. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

ACAP Saint John hosted a workshop Thursday to explore how to reduce the impact of flooding on homes and communities.

The keynote speaker, Natalia Moudrak, who studies ways to increase flood resilience in structures and people, says there are many things people can do to make their homes more flood-resilient.

And they aren't difficult or expensive, said Moudrak, the director of climate resilience at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

For example, if people have downspouts, they should ensure they are discharging at a safe distance away from their home, she said.

If they have basement windows, the window wells should be covered with plastic to prevent water from entering, while any valuables stored in the basement should be placed in plastic containers and elevated.

"I hope that while we talk about the urgency to take action to help adapt to extreme weather events that are already manifesting themselves on the ground today as a result of climate change, that people will feel empowered that there are simple things that they can do themselves to be part of the solution," said Moudrak.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the average annual cost of catastrophic weather events, such as floods, has increased from about $500 million a year to $1.8 billion over the past decade, she said.

Moudrak believes urban planning standards coming this quarter from the Canadian Standards Association that will outline how to build new residential communities to be a more flood-resilient will help.

Wetlands also hold great potential, she said. They essentially act as a natural sponge and absorb rainwater, preventing it from seeping downstream into communities.

A recent study of the wetlands located upstream from the University of Waterloo found they could store enough water during a one-in-500-year storm, "which is a really big storm," to avoid $50 million in damage to buildings in downtown Waterloo.

"And that's a gift that keeps on giving every time that a storm occurs," said Moudrak.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.