Is it climate change — where we seem to get 100-year storms every year, or is it bad subdivision planning that turned John Gauvin’s property on Glover Road into a catch basin for the entire neighbourhood?
No one knows, but for Gauvin, is now bankrupt and facing eviction, his nightmare began when a new subdivision was built behind his home.
“Until then,” he told the Bay Observer, “there were only three or four houses on Glover Road, and an empty field behind us.”
That all changed in 2008 when the empty field began to fill up with estate-sized homes. To an observer visiting the site, it Flooding is clear that the new homes are sitting at a more elevated grade than Gauvin’s property, rendering it the lowest point in the survey.
In addition, along with the new development, the city rebuilt Glover Road, filling in the ditches that had previously drained the road and replacing them with a storm sewer, that Gauvin says is blocked with debris when it is most needed.
That need was first in evident in July of 2009 when, following a severe summer storm, Gauvin’s basement was filled to a level of 7 feet of water.
A catch basin that the city had installed beside his house to drain water away from the property, in fact became the conduit for the flood when a nearby storm management pond overflowed due to a clogged storm sewer and the water surged up via the catch basin into Gauvin’s basement. In that flood Gauvin lost a furnace, a hot water tank, the electrical panel and an in-law suite that had been recently finished.
Total damage was $37,000, all but $1,000 was covered by home insurance.
Just as Gauvin had repaired the damage to his basement, a second storm hit the area on March 14, 2010. This time the result was 5 feet of water in the basement. Again furnace, water heater and major appliances were lost; again the in law suite had to be rebuilt.
But by now Gauvin’s house insurance would only cover $10,000 and at the end of the day he was out of pocket to the tune approximately $30,000. Gauvin, a commercial building manager, says the attention he had to devote to his home because of his flooding issues and repairs affected his work and cost him his job.
He is now on unemployment insurance. After the second flood his insurer notified Gauvin that he was no longer eligible for any flood insurance.
After the second flood, Gauvin installed a sump pump in his basement with the capacity to pump 340 litres a minute (75 gallons). Meanwhile the city piled up some dirt and provided sand bags to create a small berm around Gauvin’s property.
None of these measures proved effective when in January of this year another flood swamped his basement. Despite the sump pump discharging almost 4500 gallons an hour, John’s basement still filled to a level of 5 feet. Again, the furnace, hot water tank, washer and dryer were lost.
Between legal fees and uninsured losses in his home, John has lost about $55,000, most of that incurred since he became unemployed.
He has launched lawsuits against the city, contractors, developers and engineers, but cannot afford any more legal costs.
“I am just about out of options,” he told the Bay Observer,” unless a law firm can take my case on a contingent basis”. He has appealed to the provincial Ombudsman without success. He says he first raised the issue with his councillor at the time, Dave Mitchell, but could not get any action.
Coun. Brenda Johnson has been sympathetic he says. Tony Sergi, the City’s Senior Director of Growth Management, would not comment on the case because of the lawsuit.
Gauvin, a New Brunswick native, who is divorced, plans to move in with a friend in Minden, once the bank serves him with eviction papers; something he expects any day now. Once served, John will have 90 days to clear out.
“I guess because I am a single guy, my case doesn’t get as much attention as it would if I had a wife and Kids,” he notes.