Poor flood-risk maps, or none at all, are keeping Canadian communities in flood-prone areas

Keeping Children Safe Near Garage Doors

Tim Coochey indicates the height of the floodwaters that damaged the basement of his Montreal-area home. Mr. Coochey’s was one of the many homes damaged during the flooding of May, 2017.

Dario Ayala/The Globe and Mail

Tim Coochey had no idea how much water was coming his way. As the St. Lawrence River swelled in May, 2017, the resident of the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro assumed the home he’d bought a quarter-century earlier was safe; after all, the river was more than 250 metres away, and the neighbourhood’s drainage infrastructure had been upgraded considerably since the last notable flooding, in the 1970s.

But as the river rose, storm sewers began working in reverse. His street flooded. Mr. Coochey watched in shock as his driveway, which slopes toward his house, filled with water in a matter of minutes and spilled over the makeshift barricade in front of the garage door. He told his family to abandon the house.

“I didn’t even know it was a flood zone,” Mr. Coochey said. “Only now am I finding out that my particular street was basically swamp, which they backfilled. And then they built houses on it.”

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Those floods could have played out differently had Mr. Coochey, his neighbours and their civic officials better understood the situation with the help of flood-risk maps.

Tim Coochey in the driveway of his home in Pierrefonds.

Dario Ayala/The Globe and Mail

Flood maps – cartographic…

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