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City of Burlington Reflects on 5-Year Flood Anniversary and Steps Taken to Reduce Flood Risk

Image of the effects of the 2014 flood on Upper Middle Road in Burlington. / City of Burlington photo
Image of the effects of the 2014 flood on Upper Middle Road in Burlington. / City of Burlington photo

Please see the media release from the City of Burlington below issued on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019 regarding the fifth anniversary of the 2014 flood in Burlington. For a video put together by the City of Burlington, please click the link at the bottom of the page.

Burlington, Ont. — Aug. 2, 2019 — This Sunday, Aug. 4 marks five years since the City of Burlington received nearly two months of rain (191 millimetres) in approximately eight hours. City officials recently reflected on that day and the devastation caused by the flooding. Their thoughts are captured in a video release where they also touch on the recovery efforts and what work the City has done to reduce flood risk and environmental impact.

In 2014, the record rainfall caused significant flooding and damage in parts of the city. Roads, highways, businesses and more than 3000 homes were flooded and residents and their families were heavily impacted by this disaster. In the years since the flood, the City has worked on varying mitigation and prevention efforts to help manage flood risks.  Focus on better emergency preparedness has been part of these efforts to ensure the City is prepared to quickly respond to an emergency or disaster in the future.

Image of the effects of the 2014 flood at Shoreacres Creek in Burlington. / City of Burlington photo

High-intensity, short duration storms are becoming more frequent, including wind storms and ice storms. With climate change currently ranked as the city’s third highest risk, actions on climate change are being taken to help respond to the climate change factor.  Impact mitigation examples include:

  • New Emergency and Continuity Management By-Law – In July 2019, the City of Burlington passed a new Emergency and Continuity Management By-law to support disaster resiliency and community engagement
  • Partnered with the Office of the Fire Marshall and Emergency Management (OFMEM) -Burlington is the first municipality in the province that facilitated the Senior and Elected Officials Workshop which provided a review of City obligations in an emergency
  • A Disaster Resilience Working Group has been formed in collaboration with Halton Region to better align and strengthen our response and recovery plan
  • A Climate Action Plan, Corporate Energy Management Plan, Storm Water Management Plan and Urban Forest Management Plan have been prioritized in Burlington’s 2018-2022 Plan: From Vision to Focus work plan. The City has also set the important goal for city operations to be net carbon neutral by 2040 and work towards being a net carbon neutral communityeen formed in collaboration with Halton Region to better align and strengthen our response and recovery plan

MY TAKE:

As we approached the five-year anniversary of the Burlington flood on Aug. 4, 2014, we realize what took place is still very strong in our memories — there was the devastation of the flood itself, but also the outpouring of support that brought our citizens together to help each other. We’ve taken a lot of steps since then to be prepared for severe weather and prevent the flooding we experienced. We know severe weather will continue to happen with climate change. Our city-wide action plan addresses the root causes of flooding, not just the effects. So, we will continue to advocate for responsible growth, not overdevelopment; keep water at source through low-impact development; and continue to restore our citizen’s voices on issues that affect our waterfront and watersheds through the Waterfront Advisory Committee. Together we can work to reduce flood risk in our City.

“Every day for the next 6 weeks following August 4th 2014, I spent visiting flooded homes and speaking by phone with owners of homes that had flooded, attempting to provide information about what the cause was, what they could do and what might happen next. Because we were in the middle of an election, City and Region staff were not allowed to tell me which houses had flooded, nor help set up meetings or distribute flyers. We were operating in the dark. I ended up organizing meetings on people’s front lawns in sectors around the ward, notifying people by posters on telephone poles and flyers delivered by volunteers to homes. We discovered that many people had insufficient or no insurance coverage. Homes and families were disrupted. The reason I wish I had declared an emergency on August 4, 2014 was because we would have been able to engage a lot more attention and effort from all levels of government in order to get more relief to flooding victims more quickly. Everyone who experienced significant flooding and the subsequent response lived through a nightmare, and perhaps it might have been less so.

Today, I am satisfied that huge effort has been expended on fixing problems and reducing the amount of storm water that can penetrate sanitary sewers and overflow our creeks. However, we do not know how increasingly sever climate change will impact upon us and our infrastructure. We have much more work to do.” — Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

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2 thoughts on “City of Burlington Reflects on 5-Year Flood Anniversary and Steps Taken to Reduce Flood Risk”

  1. Charlie Schwarts

    While the work that undertaken to lessen the impact of a similar storm in the future unfortunately it did not penetrate into the thick skulls of many people who live along & beside our creek systems. The ones who continue to throw their leaves, grass clippings & other debris from their properties into these creeks & expect it to be carried away but who are the 1st ones to complain if the creek backs up because of a bottleneck that occurs downstream from their actions as well as actions of their neighbours. While the creek in our area has never overflowed it banks it is quite evident that people don’t care what they throw into it by the backup of debris at the bridge where it goes underground on Blairholm avenue. So, while the region & city can do their part, certain citizens have learned nothing & do not do theirs.

  2. Emergency declarations and disaster response plans are well and good but maybe some proactive work would help prevent these type of floods. My understanding is that part of the reason for this specific incident was that vegetation partially blocked a grate in the creek thus preventing the water from draining. Walk by most Burlington creeks today and you will still see them overgrown on their banks with vegetation. Take look at Martha St where the creek goes under it. You can not see the creek for all the brush. Emerald Crest. is the same. Clean up the brush. Allow the creeks to do their jobs and floods may not be that serious.

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