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Questions and Answers – Flood Recovery

Flood Recovery FAQ

Assistance provided to date

Can you describe the assistance that you’ve provided to residents so far?

Answer: The Office of Emergency Management has been coordinating all City services to ensure residents are receiving efficient and effective service, and that the City is doing everything it can to mitigate the situation. The City is now at Activated Emergency Operations to address this situation. The types of assistance the City has provided include:

  • Emergency Response
  • Self-evacuation assistance
  • Wellness checks
  • Sand and bags
  • Emergency shelter, food and lodging
  • Communications and new information
  • Ottawa Public Health – Well water testing kits

How many homes have been affected and in which areas?

Answer: The number of properties that have been impacted is approximately 347. The main locations of flooding in the city include: Cumberland, Constance Bay, Fitzroy Harbour, Dunrobin, MacLarens Landing and Britannia/Crystal Beach.
How many have been evacuated so far?

Answer: There are approximately 148 residences that self-evacuated.
When do you expect to reach peak levels?

Answer: We believe the water levels have peaked and are now receding.
How many sandbags have been given out to date?

Answer: As of May 8 more than 200,000 sandbags were distributed.

Emergency Community Support Centres

Where are residents supposed to go if they need more information about how to deal with the flooding?

Answer: The City has set up Emergency Community Support Centres in two locations. Through each of these centres, City staff, including Ottawa Public Health, will be present to triage, answer City resource questions, follow up on resident inquiries, or assign to the proper department.

  • City of Ottawa Client Service (Orléans), located at 255 Centrum Boulevard
    Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre,262 Len Purcell Drive
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Bottled water is also available at both Emergency Community Support Centres.

The Constance Bay centre is located in Ottawa Public Library branch, providing computer, internet and Wi-Fi access for impacted residents.

Why is the Red Cross taking registrations of Ottawa individuals and families impacted by the flood?

Answer: At the request of the City of Ottawa, Red Cross is now registering individuals and families in Ottawa who were impacted by the flood, including Cumberland, Constance Bay, Fitzroy Harbour, Dunrobin, MacLarens Landing, Britannia/Crystal Beach, and Belltown.

Individiuals and families can register by phone at 1-800-863-6582. The call-registration hours are:

  • Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Registration can also be in-person at the four Emergency Community Support Centres.The registration identifies the needs of the Ottawa residents – individuals and families – who were impacted by the flood. The information will help further assist the City to meet the needs of these residents in the most effective and efficient way possible.

What would you say to residents who believe that the City is not able to provide the needed assistance and that it should therefore declare a State of Emergency to allow the province to step in?

Answer: At this time, the City is working within its capacity and is also receiving assistance from the Province. The City has escalated its operations to the highest level before a State of Emergency.

Financial assistance and insurance claims

Does the City provide any financial assistance to evacuees?

Answer: The City has asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to initiate the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program for the City of Ottawa. This will provide financial assistance to residents who are affected.

Are there any financial grants or support for repairs to my shoreline or outdoor property?

Answer: The Ottawa Rural Clean Water Program  provides grants that assist homeowners to protect shorelines and reduce erosion by planting shrubs and other vegetation and installing rip-rap or other erosion-control measures. Grants are also available to decommission unused wells and repair or replace septic systems close to watercourses. Detailed information on the grants, eligibility and the application process is available at Interested landowners should contact the LandOwner Resource Centre at 613-692-3571 ext. 1136 or 1-800-267-3504.

Will the City compensate me for flood damage?

Answer: In some cases, flooding damage can be covered by insurance. You should always contact your insurance company first.

The Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program helps victims of natural disasters get back on their feet. It offers financial assistance to help cover emergency expenses and costs to repair or replace essential property. For more information:

How do I make an insurance claim for flooding?


  • Phone your insurance agent and report the damage.
  • Ask your agent if you should take a sample of the flood water (and if your insurance covers the cost of analyzing the sample).
  • Photograph the damage.
  • Clean up and repair the flooded property. Keep your receipts from this work.
  • Keep a record of any property you dispose of for health or safety reasons.
  • Also visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s website at

What if I do not have insurance coverage?

Answer: When insurance coverage is not an option:

  • Begin clean up immediately.
  • Keep a log of all the hours you spend working on clean up.
  • Keep all receipts.
  • Take pictures of all damage
  • If carpet is damaged, keep a small sample about 30 X 30 cm (12 X 12 inches).

How do I ensure my damaged property and items are catalogued?

Answer: Take photos of all the damaged items for insurance and recover records. Keep all receipts for all purchases and rentals required for the recovery and restoration.

What is the City doing about my final property tax bill?

Answer: The City of Ottawa is acting to defer the final property taxes of residents who have flooded properties. On May 10, 2017, City Council approved a motion directing staff to prepare a plan to defer this tax bill for affected residents.

The final tax bills will be mailed to all property owners in the days to come. However, the City wishes to reassure owners of flooded homes that the City is working towards the implementation of this program and that Council approval is expected on ‎May 24, 2017.

Affected residents may contact the Revenue Branch at 613-580-2444.

Returning home and reconnecting utilities

Who can residents contact if they are uncertain and have questions about re-entering their homes?

Answer: Residents can obtain information regarding next steps to re-occupy their homes (for example, regaining access to electricity, natural gas, propane, and water and sewage), by calling 3-1-1.

What steps should I take when I return home following a flood?

Answer: Check for notices from authorities depending on the current assessed status of your home.

Check to see if you still have water in your basement. If you have water, contact 311 for help to pump out the water. Do not pump out on your own, as the water may be contaminated, or you may impact a neighbour.

Check if your natural gas or propane is working. If your natural gas isn't working, contact Enbridge’s 24/7 emergency line at 1-866-763-5427 or your propane utility company.

Check if your electricity is working. If you have no electricity, contact your electric utility company: Hydro Ottawa 613-738 6400 and Hydro One at 1-888-664-9376. If appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse/breaker panels have been flooded, do not energize or return to service until they have been inspected by your electrical utility company or a licensed electrical contractor.

What should you do if you smell gas when you return home?

Answer: If you smell gas when re-entering your home, vacate the premises immediately and call 911.

What should I do before the power is restored?

Answer: Before the power is restored, you should unplug any appliances that were left plugged in. This includes lights, appliances, and electronic equipment. (Note: Stoves do not need to be unplugged)

Water and sewer

Are we currently in boil water advisory?

Answer: Water provided by the City of Ottawa is safe to drink. Residents are advised to boil their water prior to use if their well is affected by the flood water. Examples of wells affected by flood water:

  • Well head is or was completely submersed by flood water
  • Well is or was surrounded by flood water
  • Basement is or was flooded
  • The well casing is or was damaged or compromised
  • Well cap is or was missing or damaged

Can I flush my toilet?

Answer: You should only flush your toilet if your septic system is not submerged in flood water.

Can I run the sink?

Answer: You can run water from your taps to fill pots of water to boil if you are affected by flood water. Only drain water from your sink if their septic system is not submerged in flood water.

Well water testing

When do I test my well water?


  • If your house is currently flooded – Test your well water once the flood water levels have receded and the well is no longer affected by flood water. There should be no flood water immediately surrounding the well. Before testing your well water, it is important to shock and flush your well. 
  • If your house is not flooded, and has not been flooded but you live in the area of flooding – Your well water does not need to be tested as a result of the flood. However, Ottawa Public Health encourages seasonal water sampling of your well water to ensure its safety.
  • If your house was flooded, but is not currently flooded – You can test your well water as soon as convenient for you.

What can I currently use my water for?


  • If your house is currently flooded – Water should not be used for household use if your well is submersed by flood water. If this is the case, please use boiled, treated or bottled water or for ALL water use, including drinking, preparing food, cleaning, bathing, hand washing. Learn more about on the City of Ottawa’s well water information page.
  • If your house is not flooded, and has not been flooded but you live in the area of flooding – Your water is not affected by flood water and can be use for regular household use.
  • If your house was flooded, but is not currently flooded – Continue to use boiled or treated water before any household use, until two consecutive water samples taken at least 48 hours apart have confirmed that water is again safe for drinking and household use. Please note that water is considered safe only when there is NO presence to E.coli and Total coliforms. To learn more about disinfecting your well, sterilizing drinking water, and what to use for washing, visit the City of Ottawa’s well water information page.

How many days do I have to wait to test again?

Answer: After the first water sample test was submitted, wait 48 hours before taking the second water sample.

After two tests, should I do any more testing?

Answer: After two consecutive normal tests that were taken 48 hours apart, you should do a third test seven to 10 days later.

What is the turnaround time for well water test results?

Answer: The turnaround time for well water test results is 48 hours. The test results are mailed 72 hours after water samples are analyzed. If you would like your results sooner you may call the laboratory with your barcode after the 48-hour period.

Who can I call for further assistance?

Answer: Public Health Inspectors can assist in interpreting results and advising of next steps if necessary. Please ensure that you have your water test results readily available to provide to the Public Health Inspector. You can reach Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744. If you have more questions or require further confirmation that your well is not required to be tested due to the flood please call OPH.

I have a Sand point well (also know as well point), should I be getting my water tested?

Answer: Yes. If you have a sand point, or any type of well, and live in or near a flooded or recently flooded area, you should get your water tested after the flood waters have receded and your well has been disinfected. (Free well water testing)

What is a sand point well?

Answer. A sand point well, also called well-point or driven-point well, is a small diameter well made with steel pipes that are threaded together and which has a 1-meter-long well screen at the end. The purpose of the screen is to allow groundwater to flow into the well while keeping the surrounding sand out. Sand point wells are vulnerable to near-surface contamination.

A sand point well can be:

  • Driven or jetted with water
  • Shallow
  • Can be located in your basement or outside of a dwelling

Should I attempt to disinfect my sand point well myself?

Answer: Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recommends you get assistance. You can call OPH regarding sand point wells by contacting 613-580-6744 ext. 23806. A Public Health Inspector (PHI) will speak with you and may recommend that you consult or hire a plumber for the disinfection process.

If I choose to disinfect my sand point well myself:

For steps on introducing chlorine intro your sand point well, visit the section: How to disinfect a well


What do I keep and what should I discard?

Answer: Subject to confirmation with your insurance company's adjuster's evaluation, the following may have to be discarded if they have been in contact with wastewater:

  • Always throw away food, cosmetics, medicine and medical supplies, stuffed animals and toys, rugs, mattresses, pillows, cardboard and household chemicals
  • All insulation materials, and all less expensive articles that have been soaked, including particleboard furniture, mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys and pillows.
  • Furniture coverings, padding and cushions. The frames of good quality wood furniture can sometimes be salvaged, but must be cleaned, disinfected, rinsed and dried by ventilation away from direct sunlight or heat.
  • Scrape heavy dirt from washable clothes, rinse and wash several times in cold water treated with chlorine bleach, and dry quickly.
  • Separate valuable papers. You may wish to ask a lawyer whether to save the papers themselves or just the information on them.

How and where do I dispose of damaged items?

Answer: The City will provide daily waste collection, including Saturday and Sunday, to residences that have been impacted by the flood for the next three weeks as soon as it is safe to access those streets. In the meantime, impacted residents can bring household garbage to the barricades at the end of the street where it will be collected daily.

Important:  Items in your home that have been in contact with flood waters may have been exposed to contaminants. Be sure to wash your hands and take extra precautions when handling these items.

The City is coming up with a plan for the safe disposal of hazardous waste, appliances and electronic waste and will be sharing the details shortly. At this time, please do not place these materials in your residential waste pick up.

If you have hazardous waste items in your home that have been exposed to flood waters, do not touch them and call 3-1-1.

What do I wear when cleaning?

Answer: Wear coveralls, rubber boots, gloves, and a protective face mask (a respirator) to prevent inhalation of fine water droplets and dust.

Always wash your hands with soap and properly treated water before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after participating in flood clean-up activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water. For more information about how you can protect yourself during cleaning, contact Ottawa Public Health.

Building Permits

Below is a list of questions you may have about rebuilding or repairing flood damage in your home. Please contact City of Ottawa's Building Code Services if:

  • You are unsure whether you need a Building Permit
  • Your home or any other structure on your property has experienced structural damage
  • You want to arrange for a Building Inspector to visit your property
  • You have any questions at all about rebuilding, or need clarification on any of these points

Phone: 3-1-1


How do I obtain a Building Permit?

A Building Permit may be obtained by visiting any Building Code Client Service Centre. The hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • 110 Laurier Avenue West
  • 255 Centrum Boulevard
  • 101 Centrepointe Drive
  • 580 Terry Fox Drive
  • Metcalfe, 8243 Victoria St, open one day a week on Tuesdays
  • Kinburn, 5670 Carp Rd,  open one day a week on Wednesdays
  • North Gower, 2155 Roger Stevens Dr, open one day a week on Thursdays

My home or cottage has been damaged as a result of flooding. Do I require a Building Permit for the associated repairs?

If your home or cottage has experienced any of the following, a Building Permit is required:

  • Soil erosion adjacent to foundations, settlement of piers or posts, deformation or deflection of structure.
  • Removal of interior finishes and insulation, vapour barriers or air barriers where flood waters have enveloped the lowest habitable floor level.                
  • Removal or replacement of structural framing, including support posts, piers, cribbing, beams and joists. 

A Building Permit is not required for the following repairs:

  • Replacement of flooring.
  • Removal of drywall or other interior finish to permit drying of insulation.
  • Replacement of windows or doors one-for-one in the same location and size.
  • Replacement of cladding (siding, brick, etc.), deck boards or shingles.
  • Reinstalling displaced exterior stairs, landings or decks that are less than 1.2 metres (approx. 4 feet) in height from grade.
  • Reinstalling displaced accessory buildings such as sheds that are less than 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) in area.

There are many other repairs that may be undertaken without requiring a Building Permit.

How do I know if my septic system has been damaged as a result of the flood?

Your septic system should be used sparingly until the groundwater level has dropped below the level of the drain field and tank.  If surface water is still present above the drain field and tank, the septic system should not be used. If you are concerned that the flood may have damaged your septic system, please contact the Ottawa Septic System Office (613-692-3571, to obtain more information.

The Ottawa Septic System Office, of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority co-ordinates the review and approval of any septic system installed, altered or repaired, anywhere in Ottawa.

My home’s foundation is showing signs of structural damage. What should I do?

If structural damage is suspected, it is recommended that you contact a suitably qualified professional (such as a professional engineer) to assess the situation and provide direction on the required repairs. 

Does the City of Ottawa have copies of construction plans for my home?

Depending on the age of the home and its location, the City of Ottawa may have copies of the plans for the original construction and/or subsequent renovations.  Copies of these plans may be viewed through the Access to Building Permit Records process.

Please note that some older Building Permit information may take several days to retrieve.

Do I need a building permit to reconstruct detached structures on my property?

A Building Permit is required for construction of any structure occupying a space larger than 10 square metres (approx. 108 square feet) in area.  This includes reconstructing an existing structure.

When do I have to begin rebuilding structures on my property?

Buildings that have been damaged as a result of the flood are not necessarily subject to a timeline for reconstruction, however access to severely damaged structures must be reasonably restricted in order to ensure safety.

Can I rebuild my home on its existing foundation?

An existing foundation may be used when rebuilding a house provided the foundation is in good condition and capable of supporting the imposed loads.  A professional engineer may be required to confirm if reuse of the existing foundation is appropriate.

Can I rebuild retaining walls that were damaged or destroyed in the flood?

Questions about rebuilding retaining walls for homes that lie within flood plains should be directed to the appropriate local Conservation Authority.

Note: Any changes to your lot grades, driveway and/or buildings may also require a permit from the local Conservation Authority.

What happens if I don’t get a building permit?

By authority of the Building Code Act, a property owner is required to obtain a Permit prior to construction or renovation.  Obtaining a Building Permit ensures that the minimum standards for health and safety, fire protection, structural adequacy, energy performance, and accessibility are met.  Failure to obtain a Building Permit for construction may result in enforcement under the authority of the Building Code Act and, in the case of a building failure or loss, insurance coverages may be void.

Do I need a Building Permit if my front porch was damaged?

A Building Permit is required for the structural repair of buildings, including their associated porches, sunrooms, additions and decks.

How do I arrange for a Building Inspector to attend my property for an inspection?

Building Code Services will conduct inspections of homes affected by the recent flooding in order to determine whether the homes are fit for safe occupancy and to provide information on the Building Permit process, as necessary.  Inspections will be scheduled once the waters have receded to safe levels. 

How quickly can an Inspector attend my home or business for an Inspection?

Once flood waters have receded to safe levels, Building Code Services will make every effort to attend to your home or business as promptly as possible. Inspections will be scheduled within one business day following a request; however, priority will be given to properties where flood damage has compromised the structural integrity of dwellings.

Do I need any approvals other than a Building Permit?

It is most likely that your property is in the flood plain overlay in the City’s Zoning By-law. Properties in the flood plain overlay should note the following considerations.

Home or cottage

Should you wish to move the location, increase the size and /or change the configuration of the building, you may need planning approvals through a Zoning By-law Amendment or Minor Variance.

Accessory Buildings (i.e. sheds, detached garages)

Provided the accessory buildings are further than 30 metres from the watercourse, only one storey, and the total floor area for all accessory buildings is less than 50 square metres, no planning approvals are required. 

For accessory buildings that do not meet the criteria noted above, you may need planning approvals through a Zoning By-law Amendment or Minor Variance.

Conservation Authority Permits 

Any changes to your lot grades, driveway, and/or buildings may also require a permit from the local Conservation Authority. They can be contacted directly at Rideau Valley Conversation Authority (Cumberland Ward, Bay Ward) or Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (West Carleton-March Ward).

For further information contact City of Ottawa Planning Services at 613-580-2424 x21764 or