$45M Harrow flood remembered 25 years later

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary one of the worst rainfall event in Canadian history east of the Rockies.

Storm dumped 450 millimetres — 17 inches — of rain, destroying homes and crops

Here is CBC Windsor's original piece on the 1989 Harrow Flood. 1:46

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary one of the worst rainfall events in Canadian history east of the Rockies.

A massive, stationary storm dumped 450 mm (17 inches) of rain on Harrow and Colchester South in the matter of hours in southwestern Ontario.

Rain was falling at 30 mm an hour at one point overnight, between July 19 and 20.

After a four-hour break in the rain, another deluge happened between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. July 20. A one-hour period during that time saw 50 mm of rain fall.

Damage included:

  • 1 train derailment
  • 6 destroyed houses
  • 10 culverts and bridges washed out
  • 20 basement collapses
  • 2,000 homes flooded

Insurers paid out $12.7 million in claims by homeowners. There were an additional 300 claims for auto insurance, totalling $550,000. Crop insurance paid nearly $6 million on 1,353 crop claims.

All told, insurers of all kinds paid out $23 million, about half the estimated $45 million in damages.

Bryan Meyer was the treasurer of the relief committee formed to help the victims recover their losses.

"It was so sad to see people trying to save household items and photographs which is something you can't replace," Meyer said.

"I just couldn't believe the amount of water. This area looked like the Mississippi delta because there was so much water. It found it's own route to Lake Erie."

The storm actually snapped a three-week drought and for farms on the fringes of the storm the rain rejuvenated crops.


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