Lakeshore residents left frustrated, exhausted after homes flooded

·3 min read
Joel Simpkins and his wife, Robin, say they are frustrated with having to deal with yet another basement flood. Simpkins has owned the home for 12 years.  (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
Joel Simpkins and his wife, Robin, say they are frustrated with having to deal with yet another basement flood. Simpkins has owned the home for 12 years. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

For the fourth time since owning his home in Belle River, Joel Simpkins is cleaning up and spending thousands to repair the damage from yet another major rainfall.

"I'm very frustrated. I'm not happy at all," Simpkins told CBC News. "Our house stinks, so much of our stuff is ruined, so yeah it's not a good situation."

On Friday, Environment Canada recorded about 76 millimetres of rain fall in Windsor, which caused significant flooding in several areas.

The damage was so bad that the municipality of Lakeshore declared a state of emergency at 11:56 p.m. Friday so that its crews could work overtime. The emergency declaration was lifted Saturday evening.

By the end of it all, the municipality estimates that up to 100 mm fell in the region.

The municipality's corporate leader of operations Krystal Kalbol said Sunday they received more than 300 calls from residents who raised concerns over flooded homes and streets.

Some of those distressed residents arrived at the Home Hardware in Tecumseh, where assistant manager Denise Pinsonneault was working.

"A lot of people were coming in panicked because some of them were experiencing flooding basements and what not and they needed extra material," Pinsonneault recalled of Friday's storm.

She added that the store had to call in extra supplies from its Essex location just to manage the demand. People were also buying bags of sand, including play sand, she said, to help keep the water at bay.

"We started make shifting things, objects that we did have, to help customers in need," she said.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

'Something's gotta be done'

The last time things were this bad, according to Simpkins, was seven years ago. Simpkins said he's even beefed up his home, including adding a backflow valve, battery backup and water backup, to protect it from the rain.

"I did everything I could to prevent this from happening and it's still happening, so something's gotta be done," he said.

The municipality, he said, needs to improve its infrastructure to better accommodate the area. Though he's called to express his concerns, Simpkins said he doubts he'll hear back.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

"We can't obviously return all those phone calls, but we encourage people to continue calling because we do log information and when we get a certain volume of calls in an area, or based on address, we go out and respond, so instead of calling back we're helping our field staff," said Kalbol.

She said they also opened up a survey for people to fill out so the municipality can learn more about the hard-hit areas and figure out what more can be done.

One issue, Kalbol said, is that people are using the sanitary sewers for overflow, but these are not designed to take on the additional stormwater.

She also noted that the mayor said new build subdivisions in the area may also be contributing to the sanitary sewer overflow, something the municipality hopes to "tighten up."

In the coming weeks, Kalbol said the municipality will be putting out more education for homeowners and working on how to better respond to these sorts of events.

London companies helping with restoration work

As for Simpkins, he said a London restoration company has been hard at work peeling back the carpet, drywall and baseboards in his basement — all of which have been damaged.

Simpkins said all of the local companies were fully booked, which meant they had to reach out to others for help.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

As of Sunday, about a third of his basement had been torn up and was sitting in more than a dozen garbage bags on his front lawn.

Restoration worker Dylan Keney said they've had a huge spike in demand in recent days, though it's not uncommon for them to travel to Windsor-Essex.

"Been here ever since [Friday] in hotels, working long days," he said. "Usually happens every summer, we come out to Windsor, there's flooding every year we get a call to come out here."

On Monday, the municipality said it will have garbage trucks out to pick up any flooding debris.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting