Mental health impacts for homeowners with flooded basements long after water recedes, says study
On average, people miss 7 days of work to deal with flooded basements
Victims of basement flooding continue to be stressed out about it long after they've finished cleaning up, and many miss work to deal with the issue.
The study surveyed people living in Burlington, Ont. — an area doused by two months' worth of rainfall in one evening back in 2014. Some homeowners experienced heavy flooding in their basements while others hs none at all.
"Even three years later, people were documenting that on a scale from one to five — five being the worst— when it rains that day, when there is a heavy rain that day or night they are stressed," said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre and a professor at the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment.
- 'We're basically just waiting on a prayer': Windsor woman says after flooding
- 'It literally feels like a refugee camp': power cut to social housing units as people recover from storm
"About 50 per cent of people ranked [themselves] as highly stressed, saying they would be up in the middle of the night checking the basement, looking for potential flooding."
The amount of stress appears to be related to the depth of water they had downstairs, and there were no statistically significant differences in the physical health of flood victims and people who had never had a flood.
Researchers also found there were economic impacts associated with flooded basements.
On average, 56 per cent of flooded households with at least one person working too time off of work to deal with the issue. On average, those people missed seven days of work, which is ten times the Ontario average for non-flooded households.
"That was for people with or without insurance, it didn't matter," said Feltmate.
Home inspectors' course 2018
With the research in hand, Feltmate said he is working closely with Ontario colleges to develop a program mandatory for those studying to be home inspectors.
He said it needs to be a factor when people are buying a new house.
"Home inspectors have little expertise to make that determination," said Feltmate. "What we're developing is a new course ... that will be part of the curriculum and training for home inspectors."
- Did you know home inspectors in Canada aren't trained to check basements for flood risk?
- Homeowners waiting 6-8 months for city flood inspection
- 'Nothing to go home to': Inspectors give flood-damaged houses close scrutiny
Currently, home inspectors receive little to no training in basement flood risk assessment, he said, but this new program will be available in September of 2018.
Less insurance for flood victims
The focus of the study is timely, said Feltmate, because there is an urgency to mitigating the damage flooding can cause.
"Homeowners across Ontario and indeed Canada are finding themselves positioned —due to repeated basement flooding —where the availability for flood insurance on a home is limited," he said.
"Of all the extreme weather events being in the country today — flood, drought, hail, wind, ice loading — the number one cost in the country is due to flooding and flooded basements."
- Wildfires, heatwave and flooding among Canada's top weather stories for 2017
Feltman hopes this research will motivate politicians on all levels of government and locally to lower the probability of people experiencing flooded homes.
"With this information in hand, I think it will very much resonate well with politicians that 'Oh boy there's another major driver here.'"