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Basement flooding can lead to chronic stress, says new study

By The IJ Staff | June 11 2018 11:30AM

Photo: YouTube / Dev/Null

New University of Waterloo research, funded by Manulife and Intact Financial Corporation, reveals that basement flooding can lead to chronic stress in household members.

The study, After the Flood – The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health and Lost Time from Work, by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation quantified the health impacts to homeowners in Burlington, Ontario, following a major storm in August of 2014 when 3,500 homes were flooded.

Time off work

For 56 per cent of the households that had experienced basement flooding, at least one person had to take time off work. The average time off work was seven days per flooded household.

The study also showed that members of flooded households were often worried long after the event. 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, found the study.

Chronic stress

Flooded household members were also likely to worry more and report being stressed than non-flooded household members. 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, says the research.

"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 on Climate Adaptation and a professor at the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment.

Mental health awareness programs

"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."

To learn more, consult the study.

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