Muskoka Flood 2013 – What happened?

Huntsville Flood

Weather in cottage country has been acting strange the last few years. We have been having extremely hot, long summers with short bursts of winter. Waterfront cottages on and around Georgian Bay are experiencing alarmingly low water levels. And now, parts of Muskoka are trying its best to dry out after a catastrophic act of nature caused seven communities, from Huntsville to the Kawartha Lakes, to declare states of emergency as they deal with flooding and evacuating dozens of people from their homes.

A week after the storm and the worst of the flooding, the Ministry of Natural Resources are still issuing flood warnings and flood watches for most of cottage country.

What happened?

Normally, the spring runoff in central Ontario cottage country flows into Lake Ontario vis-à-vis the Trent River System. This water system manages the levels for flood control and navigation on lakes and rivers that drain over 18, 000 square km. That is four counties and three cities. Last week, the rainfall was way above average, this combined with the run off from the snow and the Trent River System could not handle the added water.

The systems of dams throughout cottage country are designed to control lake and river levels up to a certain point. But once the water level exceeds this elevation, it surpasses the limits of human control.

The current situation has some areas of central cottage country under as much as three feet of water. Businesses and homes have been ruined. Officials are comparing the flood to a full bath tub with a plug in the bottom – there is no place for the water to drain.

The town of Bracebridge has issued a new warning for seasonal residents to be aware of what they will find at their cottages. The town is concerned that some cottage roads will not be passable. The Township of Muskoka Lakes has issued its 8th warning about water levels in its municipality. To add to the warnings issued by the municipalities, stay away from the swollen rivers and lakes – they are filled with floating debris and are very dangerous!

The effects of this flood have truly been horrific. If you have a cottage in the Muskokas or the Haliburton Highlands, make a trip up North to assess the damage that has been done to your property. Drying and dehumidifying wet areas can help minimize the possibility that mold will accompany water damage. Above that, contact your insurance agent immediately to start the home owners insurance claim process.

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