What operations take place during a rainfall event?

A TRCA Flood Duty Officer and Chief Flood Duty Officer are on duty at all times (24 hours a day, 365 days a year). They monitor the watershed and weather conditions using a number of sources, including TRCA’s extensive real-time gauging network which provides precipitation amounts and water level readings across the jurisdiction. They also use available forecasting tools (computer models) to predict, as accurately as possible, the expected water level within the rivers throughout TRCA’s jurisdiction.

If there is potential for flooding or high water levels and associated safety concerns, a message will be issued.

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Who is responsible for issuing flood warnings to the public?

The responsibility for flood contingency planning is shared by municipalities, conservation authorities (CAs) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). As with all emergencies, municipalities have the primary responsibility for the welfare of residents during flood events and may call upon the province for support if required. MNRF and the CAs are primarily responsible for operating a Flood Forecasting and Warning program, which involves issuing messages and providing advice to municipalities.

Remember, TRCA focuses on riverine flooding – even if you live outside of a floodplain, or if a flood message has not been issued by the Conservation Authority, you can still be at risk for urban flooding or basement flooding from severe weather events.

Flood messages are issued by email and text message to designated individuals within municipalities, local agencies, school boards and the media. These individuals are responsible for relaying the message to relevant individuals and departments within their organizations and activating their role as defined by the Flood Contingency Plan and their organizational emergency response plans.

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Can I receive flood messages?

Please contact the 24-hour Flood Line at 416-661-6514 to speak to a staff member regarding receiving messages directly. Generally, the number of contacts is limited to municipal staff, select agencies and private landowners directly affected by flooding in order to allow the Flood Duty Officers to concentrate on their forecasting and monitoring roles during an event. However, if appropriate, new contacts may be added.

You can also follow the @TRCA_Flood account on Twitter.

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Messages are often issued but no flooding occurs. Why does this happen?

Weather systems are extremely complex and difficult to predict. Many factors can result in lesser precipitation than expected, including: redirection of an anticipated storm away from our area, dissipation of rainfall before the storm reaches our area, false readings on radar data due to ‘noise’ within the data, and even overprediction by the numerical weather models due to the complexity of weather systems.

Nevertheless, we rely on the best information available to forecast the potential for flooding within our jurisdiction. This includes information from a variety of climatology sources and we are also in direct contact with Environment Canada meteorologists during an event to receive the latest updates.

At the TRCA, Flood Duty Officers have to make decisions based on the data currently available and past experience with similar storm systems. These decisions have to be made in a timely manner in order to provide adequate notice to our member municipalities, school boards and the public. If in doubt, we err on the side of caution.

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What should I do if a flood message is issued for my area?

Take heed of the message issued and stay well away from rivers and water bodies. Be prepared to follow the advice and instructions of emergency response authorities. Also, make sure that you have a personal 72-hour emergency kit ready for yourself and each member of your family in case you have to evacuate your home or shelter-in-place.

What should I teach my children about flooding?

Children should be made aware of the dangers of flooding waters. It is often difficult to judge the depth of water, and the strength of fast flowing water can be very deceiving. Both adults and children can be quickly overpowered by flood waters. Therefore, the best thing to do during a flood is to stay well back from the edge of the water, pets included.

Do I need permission to floodproof my property?

Under the Conservation Authorities Act, TRCA is responsible for the protection of lives and property from the effects of flooding and erosion within their jurisdiction. TRCA is responsible for the enforcement of land use regulations to:

• Prevent construction in areas subject to flooding hazard
• Prevent the indiscriminate placing of fill in flood and erosion hazard areas
• Regulate the interference with and alteration of water courses

Generally, Ontario Regulation 166/06 and TRCA policy prohibit any filling or new construction within an area suspect to flooding (minor or accessory structures such as tool sheds, car garages may be allowed). The regulation also applies to renovation or additions, such as the floodproofing of existing buildings. Prior to any filling or construction in the floodplain, a permit must be obtained from TRCA.
Construction activity may also require municipal approvals under municipal by-laws or building codes, or from other government agencies.

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What number should media call for more information during an event?

Media inquiries should be directed to the Flood Line at 416-661-6514 or via email at floodmessage@trca.on.ca. Be sure to follow the voice prompts to “tag” the message so that it will be forwarded directly to the on-call Flood Duty Officer. Every effort will be made to respond to media inquiries in a timely fashion.

I rent a TRCA property that is flooding. Who should I call?

If you are experiencing flooding on your TRCA rental property please call the Property pager number at 416-295-0127.

My basement is flooding. What should I do?

In the event of basement flooding please contact your local municipality.

Are my home and belongings covered by insurance if flood damage occurs?

Water damage caused by sewer backup is covered if it is included in your home insurance policy. Sewer backups can happen during intense rainstorms when aging municipal sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure becomes overloaded. Talk to your insurance representative to see if you’re covered.

Historically, overland flooding has not been covered by home insurance. Please visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada online or contact your insurance provider for more information.

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