Citizens deal with disastrous flooding and soothing words from their political leaders. One local church delivered cheques within 36 hours.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 9, 2014


When there is a disaster in a community the province has a program that requires the community to raise funds locally which the province will match on a two for one basis.

Donations may be made by phone at 905-635-3138, by email at and in person at 3425 Harvester Road, Unit 107, Burlington. More information can also be found at’s a sort of ‘if you will help yourselves – we will join you’.  You can donate online to the United Way

It seemed to take a little longer that one would expect for the city and the United Way to get together and create a Burlington Flood Relief Fund.  Everyone knew how bad things were by Tuesday morning but it was Friday before there was any announcement about the plans to solicit donations which the province will match.

FLOOD man walking in water Harvester Road signA number of people have commented on the paucity of information available to the public Monday evening – other than requests to stay off the roads and stay inside your homes.  Tough for those who had water several feet deep.  There wasn`t much more information available on Tuesday either.

Burlington had much the same problem with the ice storm last December.  There was very poor communication between the city and the different media outlets – turned out that the city media people didn’t have an up to date data base and weren’t able to get information out.

For those who were not caught in the storm it is difficult to grasp just how bad it was.  Some television footage tells part of the story.

FLOOD red SUV rushingWell managed cities have contingency plans that were written, tested and sitting on a shelf ready to be implemented in hours.  Imagine how much relief those dealing with flooding would have felt, had they known that come the next morning the city would have the wheels rolling.

We didn’t see wheels rolling in this town until Friday, when there was what amounted to a photo-op for the Mayor and the Regional Chair.

Earlier in the week ward 5 candidate James Smith urged Council to declare a state of emergency and get a disaster relief program rolling.  It might take months to get funds into the hands of people, who have gone through several floods in the past and seen their insurance cancelled or capped at $10,000 when they face a restoration cost of $150,000.

Burlington has massive reserves; funds set aside for specific situations.  Was there anyone at city hall on Friday pouring over the rules and looking for ways to loosen up some of those reserves and make funds available to people who need the help now?

Burlingtonians are generous people – the donations will flow and the province will eventually cut a cheque – but that will take time.  Why can’t the city loan a couple of hundred thousand dollars to the relief fund the United Way is going to set up and have funds move into the hands of that family on Stanley Drive, where they were up to their knees in feces.

Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said that Burlington must declare a “disaster area” for the purposes of the ODRAP program.  That apparently isn’t going to take place until the Council meeting on Thursday – why the wait until close to the end of next week?

A large congregation in the east end of the city had senior staff members driving to the homes of the members of the church with cheques in their hands within 36 hours of the flooding.  If a church can move this fast – city hall should be able to do so as well. .

The Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program is intended to ease the hardship suffered by private homeowners, farmers, small business enterprises and non-profit organizations, whose essential property has been damaged in a sudden and unexpected disaster, such as a flood. The program provides funds to those who have sustained heavy losses for essential items such as shelter and the “necessities of life.”

Jeff Valentin, CEO of the United Way said: “The families of at least 1,000 homes in Burlington are struggling to get their lives back to normal following the storm, and some do not have the means to make this happen. The United Way is here to help direct the generosity of people in Burlington toward their neighbours into a fund that can help the people who need it most.”

The City of Burlington has been working with Halton Region to clean up following the storm on Aug. 4, repairing, reopening and cleaning roads and sidewalks, and clearing debris in creeks and parks. Nearly 200 millimetres of rain fell in three hours. The high-intensity short-duration storm caused creeks to overflow and resulted in road closures and flooded basements in many areas of the city.

“We are very grateful to the United Way for setting up a community flood relief fund to help the people of Burlington affected by the flood,” said Pat Moyle, Interim City Manager with the City of Burlington. “The creation of a community-based fund is crucial to the success of securing provincial funding support for the residents impacted by the flood. For every dollar raised locally, the province has the ability to double that amount through its Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.”

FLOOD - basement - stuff floating“I have spoken to hundreds of people since Monday’s storm. Everyone is doing the best they can to return their lives to normal, clean up their homes and to try to make it work financially,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “This is truly a very serious situation for the people of Burlington. I look forward to our provincial partners helping the United Way help those in need.”

Halton Region announced that it will support the City’s request for provincial assistance through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP). The provincial program provides assistance for those who have experienced extraordinary damage due to a natural disaster. The City will adopt a resolution next week requesting funding from the program. To strengthen the request, the Region will provide a letter to support Burlington’s request for Provincial assistance.


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1 comment to Citizens deal with disastrous flooding and soothing words from their political leaders.

  • Joan

    Why wait indeed, and Kudo’s to the Church members in the East end.
    It is my experience that many Burlingtonians are generous and caring about their brothers and sisters in need. Hats off to all who stepped up to the plate in such a short time. I am sure it is much appreciated.