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Study Examines the Impacts of Basement Flooding on Mental Health

By Todd Westcott 09:48AM June 12, 2018

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Research from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation has calculated the lost time from work and the mental health impacts resulting from basement flooding.

Of all extreme weather events in Canada, flooding is currently the costliest, causing millions of dollars in property damage. The research conducted by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, at the University of Waterloo, and funded by Manulife and Intact Financial Corporation, quantified the health impacts to homeowners in Burlington, Ontario, following a major storm in August of 2014 when 3,500 homes were flooded. These findings are published in the report After the Flood – The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health and Lost Time from Work.

“This study adds a new dimension to our understanding of the pernicious impacts of flooding—long term mental stress, combined with lost time from work, underscore the need for all levels of government to act with haste to promote home flood protection across Canada,” said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre.

Image Credit: Intact Centre.

More than half (56 per cent) of flooded households with at least one person working took time off work, for an average of seven days per flooded household. This is 10 times the Ontario average for non-flooded households.

“Being prepared for unexpected expenses allows us to deal with issues as they arise,” said Dr. Georgia Pomaki, Leader, Mental Health Specialists at Manulife. “By strengthening the psychological resiliency of Canadians through programs focused on mental health awareness, prevention, intervention and recovery, we are preparing our clients, their employees, and their families with the tools they need to thrive.”

Three years after their home was flooded, 48 per cent of respondents from flooded households were worried when it rained, compared to three percent of respondents from non-flooded households.

Image Credit: Intact Centre.

Within the first 30 days of experiencing a flood, 47 per cent of flooded household members were worried and stressed, compared to 11 per cent of those who had never experienced a flood.

The researchers indicated that without action, the mental health impacts profiled in this study will significantly worsen as greater numbers of homeowners across Canada experience residential basement flooding.

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